Monday, March 22, 2010

quilt show 2010

these happy women are from the quilter's guilds in the Manassas area

Saturday Keith and I drove out to Manassas and picked up my mother and rushed off to the annual Quilting Guild's show. They set up in two big buildings on the Prince William County fair ground just outside of old downtown Manassas. We arrived in the sunny spring weather to a long line of new quilt displays. Paid our $5 and went in to see and I took pictures of some of my favorite examples. There were also vendors who were selling fabrics for quilting and tools and other quilt related products but most of the show was devoted to quilt display. I got about six fat quarter yards of reproduction 1860's printed fabrics to add to my coverlet project. There are more quilt photos on my flickr. pages,

Friday, March 19, 2010

old Dutch ice skates

detail from Hendrick Avercamp's winter scene painting, circa 1625

The large lecture hall was set up with a small table in the center full of antique ice skates and papers the speaker brought to show.

He invited all 50 or so audience down to have a look after his talk and slide show.

He was very enthusiatic story teller seen here waving a hand over one of his books to help explain.

Mr. Anrie Broere on left and Arthur Wheelock Jr. curator of northern baroque painting NGA , demonstrate how couples held hands while on the ice in the old days.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a small talk by an elder Dutchman, Mr. Anrie Broere who collects antique ice skates and has skated all his life. He has over 700 pairs and knows the history of ice skating like it was his own personal history. He came to Washington's NGA to add background to a new exhibition of small paintings on display through July where some of his fine antiques skates are on display with paintings by Dutch Master: Hendrick Avercamp of the early 1600's. Avercamp was mute and from a family that allowed him to learn the art of painting in Amsterdam. Eventually he specialized in painting and drawing winter scenes on the ice that were very popular. There was plenty of ice and snow during the so called "Little Ice Age" which was a cooling of Europe which saw winters come early and leave late and temperatures average below freezing all through the mini ice age. The paintings are charming and full of examples of skaters doing everything imaginable thing on the ice. Today Mr. Broere told us a Dutch saying that goes "ice is the great equalizer of men" or something like ice skating is completely democratic no mater how high your station in life everyone takes a fall sooner or later. He gave his talk in English but had a rather thick Dutch accent that made some of the details a little hard to follow but he was clearly well prepared and had experience talking about the history of skating. I suspect he talks to children school groups at home. The slides he showed were magical illustrations and old photos from early 20th and late 19th century skaters. Everyone in Holland used to get around on the ice because there is so much water that going by road in wet winters would have been too slow and difficult on the muddy roadways. Boats were used in warm weather for much trade and transportation and when winters were cold and froze all the water they used sleds and skates and even ice skating boats powered by sails and cold winter winds.

Sunday March 21st 2:00 PM the introduction promises to a very interesting introduction to the artworks themselves when Pieter Roelofs, curator of 17th century paintings, and Bianca M. du Mortier, curator of costume, Rijksmusuem, Amsterdam come to open the show with a lecture on the artists and the costumes of his day.
below the link to the exhibition's web page with a slide show and other information.

The movie Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates was a movie I saw as a kid many times and it captured my young imagination. What it would be like to skate for miles on the frozen winter canals using those funny little strips of metal tied onto your boots? Today's speaker showed us very old skates and told us about the real race that is a 125 mile long circuit done in one day that travels to 11 cities. He skated that race three times finishing it when thousands of others gave up. It begins before dawn and finishes after dark, over 12 hours rushing across uneven ice over rivers and lakes and canals. Those who finish the whole circuit are called heroes and I can understand why. Nothing like it exists in modern day sports on ice. I was very lucky to learn more about this exciting Dutch pass time today. Thanks to whoever brought Mr. Anrie Broere over to Washington DC and the NGA to give his talk and show his skates.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

blurry vision in bright sunlight

I just finished loading more photos of my blurry sempervivum on Flickr and thought you might like a peek at the two I saved for last. They are slightly blurry when blown up (click on the image with your mouse) but still the colors and textures of sedum and sempervivum (also known as hens and chicks) are lovely and very colorful this time of year. There are a few crusty old leaves and evergreen tips adding some nice browns to the fresh spring colors. Sunshine has returned after four rainy days, it is blinding but it shows off colors nicely. Sharing on the blog doesn't have to take a lot of time...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

march madness; spring fever

Illustration of the original mad tea party with Alice, March Hare (with straw) Door mouse and the Mad Hatter.

species crocus 3 inches tall

giant crocus 5 inches tall

Mad orange Hatter, Queen of hearts, and Alice in Wonderland a Tim Burton masterwork.

Keith chose art, a wood engraving by Rosemary Feit-Covey and a vase made in the Torpedo factory studios. Then he built this amazing nail and pull tie sculpture, his speciality to complement the artworks.

It is nearly the middle of March and I am ready for spring. This past week the weather warmed in DC and the snow is completely gone. I walked out one afternoon to go visit my mother and discovered my tiny species (wild) crocus had come up and begun to bloom and some of the giant purple crocus are also bursting out! It is a welcome sign.Last weekend Keith was part of the biannual Ikebana and Art exhibition at the Alexandria Art League Gallery in the Torpedo Factory. That was a lot of fun to attend and I loaded up a slide show of my opening night snapshots on my flickr page.

Here is a video from the opening night of the ikebana and art exhibition, pardon the shaky camera man who almost forgot and turned the camera side ways while filming.
Live music was in the room with the Japanese style tea bowls, an exhibition that was a nice complement to the ikebana.
Sunday we went to see a movie that was a new experience. 3-D Alice in Wonderland with an orange haired mad hatter as a wild looking clown but much more sympathetic as a partner with blue Alice as she seeks to end the oppressive rule of red Queen of hearts. Orange and blue are complementary colors on the color wheel which I hadn't realized while watching the movie. 3-D is really quite a bit better than it used to be when I was a teen. On the subject of March and madness... I was surprised to learn that the March hare in the wonderland story was a misunderstood interpretation of a natural behavior of rabbits. They begin matting in England in March and females fight off unwanted mates and leap straight up in the air and do all sorts of sudden moves to avoid them. Hence they are called march hares because of the crazy behavior which was believed to be males sparing when the book was written.
Another interesting tidbit was that wearing straw on a person's head was a sign of madness to Victorians and was used in satires and political cartoons.
This weekend rains are keeping us gray but encourangeing the flower bulbs to grow so they can cheer us all with the returning sun. We turn forward our clocks tonight the day light savings time begins just in time to kill the winter blues.

Monday, March 1, 2010

international sketch crawl #26

First sight of Christian sketching at the Freer

My neighbor Dan Vera and I have wanted to do a sketch crawl in Washington DC with other sketching artists for a number of years. This past Saturday we finally got to join a group of local artists and tour several of the Smithsonian museums and National Gallery of art to draw and dine and enjoy the company of like minded artists.

A "sketch crawl" is a group of artists who set out like a bar crawl to draw instead of drink. You gather your force and travel from one setting to the next drawing a sketch or two then everyone moves on to the next spot drawing/drinking until you drop. I first heard of this new phenomenon from Danny Gregory the master sketcher in NYC who fueled my passion to draw on the go.

Because it is February and cold we chose the museums on the mall for your settings beginning at the Freer, an Asian art museum near metro as the place to begin our crawl. Dan and I met Christian Tribastone first who's art blog I have been following then he introduced us to the three other artists in our sketch crawl party. We were six sketchers strong, Çhristian Tibastone, Dan Vera, two women named Erin: Erin Malick Thompson & Erin Antognoli and Joel Winstead . It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed being inside drawing out of the cold wind but the walks were refreshing between museums. Each of this artists have posted something on their blogs or flickr. pages and I linked the names for you to go take a peek at our WDC group's accomplishments. Erin Antognoli a photographer took a nice group portrait of us ,posted on her flickr set, out in front of the Botanical Gardens and the US Capitol.
I have loaded all my photos of sketches and people and the artworks I was sketching on my flickr. page . There you will see a set of 20 photos including 5 sketches done in 6 hours with two stops for food and drinks. It was an excellent day of sketching and getting to know new art making people. I was surprised the guards let Dan and I carry our folding stools into all the buildings so we could sit where ever we wanted to draw. One drawing scene caught a photographer's eye and she came up and took a photo or two of me drawing an ivory carving of Adam and Eve with a very old twin lens camera with a view finder on top. It surprised me with a very loud shutter release. I was flattered to become part of art while making some of my own about another artist's work (Adam & Eve ivory carving circa 1680) Layers of art making piled high. What a rush.
Thanks to all the artists who made a great company to sketch crawl with in Washington DC. The next International Sketch Crawl is coming up Saturday May 15th and you can find your cities group by joining a forum here: they are about every three months and dates are set by the founder of the sketch crawl in San Francisco, Enrico.