Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sheer Opulence

"Less Is Not More," a painting I made in 1999 as a gift for an interior designer friend (whose initials are NLM.)

I think every artist loves “doing” their interiors. We may not be interior decorators but the urge is always there to use our surroundings as yet another creative outlet. My taste in interiors, like the art I make, tends to be of the “Less is Not More” school, and looks to the past rather than to current trends for aesthetic nourishment. I love looking at interior design (usually on the printed page) and there are many practitioners whose work I admire, ranging from icons like Nancy Lancaster and Sister Parrish, to current masters like Bunny Williams and John Saladino, and on to the wild frontiers of Diamond and Baratta. Now I have a new addition to my A-list:  I recently acquired a copy of Nicholas Haslam’s Sheer Opulence, subtitled Haslam Style:  Glamour in Contemporary Interiors

Opulence and glamour are, alas, not very evident in my present home, but I add touches where I can, and slake my thirst for those qualities by acquiring books such as this. Haslam originally trained as an artist, and the Introduction contains several of his interior watercolors. Haslam’s opulent aesthetic--why just one layer when more can be contrived to richer effect?--is achieved by obsessive attention to detail. Floral print draperies in a bedroom are given a “fuzzy, funky” edging made of 3 layers of heavily gathered, scallop-edged chintz, looking like rows of flower petals attached to the curtains. He can also do sparer, more restrained interiors that nevertheless exude style and that ineffable quality, “taste”, via that same attention to detail. A dignified, monochromatic London drawing room is saved from stodginess by a gorgeous chandelier, cascading drapery swags and deep fringe on an ottoman. Dee-lightful! 

After perusing these beautiful photos for days, I began reading the text. As a young man Haslam was introduced to some well-known personages among his parent’s contemporaries, including Lady Diana Cooper, Cecil Beaton, and Oliver Messel. Geoffrey Scott, author of The Architecture of Humanism, was his father’s cousin (and one of Vita Sackville-West’s lovers) and had a hand in decorating his parent's home. Haslam says these people “taught me the point of the past,” something so very lacking, it seems to me, in the education of today’s younger generations. Or am I showing my age?

“Every room should have a touch of pink in it, because it makes all the other colors sing.”
 -Nicholas Haslam

Along with this lovely book, I am currently reading Serious Pleasures, a biography of Stephen Tennant by Phillip Hoare, which contains photos (by Beaton) of rooms in his family home, Wilsford. Stephen was assisted in decorating Wilsford by Syrie Maugham, another iconic decorator. Pink was his favorite color. These books, one about a legendary aesthete and one by a contemporary artist/designer, make delightfully complementary reading. I recommend them both.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Wake-up Call

Today on Facebook, I followed a link in a post from Randel Plowman (one of the inspirations for my aborted collage-a-day project) and ended up in a wonderland of incredible artwork. Here is the link:

Via the links on the Oblog page, I entered the amazing worlds of Angelica Paez, Javier Rodriguez and Rodrigo de Fillipis. I urge you to do the same.

I can barely tell of the emotions that stirred in me by seeing their work. Surprise, appreciation, the joy of seeing talent put to such effective use, and also, ENVY. Having strayed so far of course from the purpose of starting this blog—to post a daily (or at least steady) stream of new artwork—I felt like I'd been turned to stone in the roadway while others dashed past leaving a shower of glorious artworks in their wake. *sigh*

Clearly, it is time for me to break out of this drift, and get back to my heart's core. Just to make myself feel better, I have re-posted a dozen favorite pieces of my own, to remind myself that, yes, I can actually make art when I choose to. (Click on the date to go to the original post.)

Best Friends Forever. Posted 2/23/10

Descension. Posted 6/11/10

Star Charts. Posted 5/11/10

A Bridefor Max Ernst.  Posted 4/16/10

Buddha Eggs. Posted 5/18/10

Le Chapeau fait l'Homme. Posted 6/9/10 

St. Theresa in Excelsis. Posted 4/11/10

The Walls of Jericho. Posted 7/13/10

Pleasure Dome. Posted 7/1/10

Egg Hunt. Posted 6/12/10

Clever Parrot. Posted 5/7/10

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey!

Today would’ve been Edward Gorey’s 86th birthday. Alas, he is no longer with us but I don’t doubt he can “hear” our birthday wishes. As my own homage to the Master of macabre wit, I offer photos of a recipe box I made several years ago (for one of the people I love most in the world, who is also a dedicated Gorey fan.)  The box is decoupaged with scenes based on EG’s drawings, combined with illustrations of vintage utensils and comestibles. I think Edward would’ve enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too.

The lid of the recipe box. Arsenical buns for all!

Front of the recipe box. Mr. Earbrass is perhaps having a nightmare?

Rear of box. Beware of attacking kitchen utensils.

Side of box. Green Gages and Crumply Bumplies for breakfast!

Other side of box. Welcome to Edward's kitchen.

The box open

Another view of open box

The interior features Victorian kitchen scenes. Don't they look cozy?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The War on Women

Not worried yet? Read this email from

Dear MoveOn member,
It might seem hyperbolic to say that Republicans have declared a war on women.
Sadly, it's not.
Just take a look at the top 10 shocking, crazy things Republicans have proposed in recent weeks. If you think this constitutes a war on women, please share this email far and wide—forward it, and post it on Facebook and Twitter.
I wish I could say these were the only examples of the Republican war on women. But it's just a sampling, and more is sure to come—unless we raise a ruckus and call them out. So please, share this email today.

Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP War on Women

1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't.
2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. 
5) In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
9) Congress voted yesterday on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).
Please share this email today. Just click the links to post on Facebook and Twitter.
1. "'Forcible Rape' Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding," The Huffington Post, February 9, 2011
"Extreme Abortion Coverage Ban Introduced," Center for American Progress, January 20, 2011
2. "Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As 'Accusers,'" The Huffington Post, February 4, 2011
3. "South Dakota bill would legalize killing abortion doctors," Salon, February 15, 2011
4. "House GOP Proposes Cuts to Scores of Sacred Cows," National Journal, February 9, 2011
5. "New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion," Talking Points Memo, February 4, 2011
6. "Republican Officials Cut Head Start Funding, Saying Women Should be Married and Home with Kids," Think Progress, February 16, 2011
7. "Bye Bye, Big Bird. Hello, E. Coli," The New Republic, Feburary 12, 2011
8. "House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy," The Hill, February 16, 2011
9. "House passes measure stripping Planned Parenthood funding," MSNBC, February 18,2011
"GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds," Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2011
10. Ibid.
Birth Control for Horses, Not for Women," Blog for Choice, February 17, 2011
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday VyVy!

Today is the birthday of a friend of mine who also happens to be a brilliant young physician! So I made this birthday card for her. Have a happy one, VyVy!

I'm also excited because I recently found blogs by Teesha Moore, one of my favorite artists and the one-and-only creator of the planet-wide art phenomena called "zettiology," and also her husband Tracy's blog. Tracy Moore makes incredible hand-made books, in addition to producing fabulous journals like Teesha. Check them out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where the Lotus Goes in Winter

I have removed my blog background (except for some color), in the hopes that this will spur me to create my own background. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time.  Why not now? While I wait for Spring. The weather has been teasingly warm(er) here, I no longer feel like a lady locked in ice.

Monday, February 14, 2011

AValentine's Day Wish For You...

Search for a Hidden Heart

May your Valentine's Day be rich
in love, friendship, and chocolate. And may someone special discover your hidden heart.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Time for a Change...'s been happening for a long time anyway. Early on, I said the reason I was doing this blog was to get myself to make more art. It worked! For awhile. Perhaps my collage-a-day project was ill-conceived, given that I could not sustain the stresses that goal put on my time, sleep, and other commitments in my life. So, why not write posts about other things that interest me, or things in my life that others might find interesting? Next to art, the biggest category of personal obsessions is books--as well as music, interior decoration, food, gardening, animals, etc. The fact that reading a book is MUCH EASIER than producing art has something to do with it. bring you up to date with the highlights, and nadir, of my past several days:

Last Friday night I was delighted to attend Handel's Rinaldo when a friend's husband was not up to 3 hours of baroque opera!
Sorceress Armida (Alexandra Loutsion, center) has Almirena and Rinaldo (Shannon Dooley, left, and Stephanie Lauricella) under her power in Pittsburgh Opera's "Rinaldo."
© David Bachman Photography, 2010
The singing was nothing short of astounding, especially considering that these vocalists are members of Pittsburgh Opera's Artists in Residence program, singers-in-training, all so young that only one is just embarking on a professional career. Minimalist but effective sets, in combination with evocative lighting and costumes, also  made for a visually magical night. How about a little operatic beefcake?

Sexy & Shirtless: "Barihunk" Dan Kempson, who sang Argante in Rinaldo
Saturday night I attended a baby shower for a co-worker, and a fine, ribald old time was had by all! 

Sunday afternoon I picked up my daughter from a sibling reunion at her Dad's place, looking forward to spending Monday with her before putting her on a train back to NYC on Tuesday morning.

We watched the Steelers lose the Superbowl., in spite of this year's fabulous fight song, "Drink Up, Yinz Bitches!"...well, gotta give the other guys a chance to win once in awhile.

Alas, I awoke early Monday and found myself face to face with a nasty bout of the flu. I haven't been that sick in quite awhile, and lost my day with my daughter. Fortunately her Aunt was able to get her to the train station so she got home ok.

Last night I finally stopped the frequent dashes for the bathroom, but I stayed home from work today as well. I'll be back in harness tomorrow.

I'm online tonight, actually, because I was searching for pictures of the Honorable Stephen Tennant, whose biography, Serious Pleasures, I am currently reading. There's something about early-20th c personalities that I find utterly fascinating--Stephen Tennant, Diana Cooper, Ottoline Morrel, the Sitwells, the Mitfords, Vita Sackville-West, to name a few. Perhaps its that sense of temps perdu, of ways of life that are forever vanished, that makes the magic. Also, people seemed to conduct themselves with so much more panache and/or elegance in bygone times. Or does every generation think that?
Stephen Tennant costumed as Prince Charming


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