Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning--New Painting of North Florida Beach, "Spring Breezes"

Adapted (fairly freely) from a photo I took at Jacksonville Beach, this painting shows a dune crossing at a relatively quiet spot along our amazing off-shore island. Wildflowers were loving the early spring warmth (hint, the photo was not taken this past, unusually chilly, winter) on a March day. "Spring Breezes" developed slowly, even though I had made sketches and careful plans. Something about the look of it seemed lifeless to me along the way in spite of the bright blossoms. Fortunately, I was scheduled for another month of e-critique with my painting mentor, Linda Blondheim, and she helped me realize my original vision--plus.
Today, I won't go through the whole story of the evolution of this piece. Perhaps I will post more details about the painting process soon, but for now, have decided to let it speak for itself. After all, if visual art needs words, we are not fully doing our job :>). Of course, some visual art is meant to be paired with words or other media, and that can be wonderful. That was not the plan in this case, and I hope it stands alone. You can click on the photo to enlarge it and see more detail, but I also have some detail photos to accompany a future post about the painting process. Just one note about the scene: If you are familiar with Jacksonville Beach, you know that our dunes are not really this high. Hence my earlier disclaimer about freely adapting the actual scene--using my "artistic license" again, friends. Just one more thought before I close for today:
Question of the day: For me, the paintings that I have struggled with most sometimes grow on me, even becoming favorites. Does that happen for you--whether in visual arts or any other challenging undertaking?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Growing--Nice Display of My Paintings in a Shop

The owner of Trends Home Decor in Jacksonville, Florida, has honored my work with an attractive grouping in a prime location in her shop. She likes the way these five pieces look in a grouping, and I am surprised myself by how impressive they look the way she has arranged them :>). Somehow my work looks more like real art displayed in her shop than it does at home (at least in my view). Sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit for our own work and can benefit from the respect others give it. I think that is true at times no matter what kind of work we do.
A previous post recounted the serendipity that led to this unexpected opportunity to display paintings for sale and described Trends in more detail. I would highly recommend Lori Taylor's fine shop and the lovely, affordable art, home furnishings and home accessories she offers. If you are in the North Florida area, stop in to see for yourself. Trends Home Decor is located at 3919 Hendricks Avenue just south of Emerson in the San Marco area of Jacksonville, Florida. Note: If the paintings above are difficult to see, just click on a photo to enlarge it.
Question of the day: When have you had an experience that provided a welcome, different perspective on your work, your life, or yourself?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Exploring--Mediterranean Turkey--Our Cruise in a Gulet

In contrast to the strange, other-worldly landscape of the region of Cappadocia, Turkey, which I showed you a few posts ago, today I am reminiscing about a sail on Turkey's south-eastern Mediterranean coast. When we visited Turkey several years ago, we were able to skip out on our guided bus tour for four glorious days and nights sailing the gorgeous turquoise waters--and then hop onto the next bus tour with our chosen itinerary that came by. The wonderful Pacha Tour Company arranged it all in advance, delivering us directly to the dock and picking us up in Anatalya harbor after our sail to continue our journey.
Given that I have just reread all my journal entries from this segment of our journey, this could be a very long post :>). Instead, I will try to give you a flavor of the mini-cruise and let the photos tell the rest. We sailed in a gulet, a lovingly kept wooden boat about 70 feet long and maybe 20 feet wide. Our captain, his father, and his 15 year old son comprised our congenial crew. Eleven passengers stayed in the six cabins, all beautifully panelled, as you can see in the photo. Our bed was at least as wide as a queen and somewhat longer, filling the area under two generous windows, which let in the October breezes, comfortably warm in the daytime and pleasantly cool at night. With ample storage in drawers under the bed and a closet on one end wall, we were cozy as could be. The door to our spotless bathroom on the left side of the picture is standing open (actually closes at right angles to the cabin door). The bathroom had a porcelain toilet and pedestal sink, wide handy shelves with a rim to keep things in order even if the boat rocked, and a hand-held shower. There was hot water whenever the engine was running and for at least an hour after we anchored each night.
Days were lazy, with four lovely meals (including an afternoon tea) prepared by the 15 year old (along with all his other chores, I don't know how he made such great food in the little galley, but we loved it). We explored the coast at a leisurely pace, with frequent extra stops at anchor so that we could swim in the crystal clear, silky water in peaceful coves. There were optional dinghy rides to coastal towns like Kas and Kalekoy, which you see in two photos above (Kalekoy, that is)--one shows the town crowned by an old Byzantine fortress, and one looks down from a street on the hill to the harbor and boats anchored with ours just beyond the docks.
The whole journey was magical, with quiet opportunities to stare deep into the water--the rocks, sea floor vegetation, and an occasional critter clearly visible, even in 50 - 60 feet of water. We could read, sketch, sun, lie back and watch the sky, or socialize with other passengers, two German couples, several Dutch people, and a Canadian man. With encouragement, our captain gradually opened up and told us about his life, speaking gently in limited English (his son's English was better), and "grandpa" just fished and grinned as he communicated his love of life on the water in a good-humored sort of sign language. The cruise was delightful and interesting in its own right and also provided a laid-back interlude in our time in Turkey.
Question of the day: Do you also enjoy time out on the water, at home or when traveling? I can't seem to do without it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Savoring--Summer Flowers, Indoors and Out

For us, appreciating nature's beauty is an essential element of creative everyday life. We also love the trees and plants in our own yard and the birds and animals that come around. My husband particularly likes gardening and growing flowering plants--luckily for me. I like bringing flowers indoors, but didn't have the right kinds of plants in the yard for it. So this spring, we chose a spot to plant a cutting garden.
Because we are committed to planting North Florida natives as much as possible, and because this is a unique ecosystem--not tropical, and yet not friendly to many of the flowers we knew from other parts of the country--it has been a learning experience. We presently have mostly yellow and purple flowers, with some reds (the colors I wanted for bringing into our home).
So, here is a quick look at our cutting garden in its very first season and at a modest bouquet I gathered to celebrate our return from a couple of weeks away. I am glad to be back to blogging and apologize for the gap in postings. Even though I had two posts written in advance to post automatically while we visited relatives, more time has passed than I intended. I also hope to get back to a more regular schedule of visiting all your blogs soon. It seems to be a slow season for blogging in general with fewer visitors coming around than in the spring. Hope you are all enjoying a fine summer (at least those of you in the Northern Hemisphere; I need to remember that some of you are looking toward spring's approach :>).
Question of the day: How is your summer going? For those of you who blog, has this been a busy or a quiet season in blogland?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Learning--Cappadocia in Turkey--An Other Worldly Scene

Once again, a delightful encounter with local Turkish people has sparked memories of our incredible journey around Turkey in the fall of 2003. One recent Saturday, the Amity Turkish Cultural Center here in Jacksonville, FL presented their monthly Turkish cooking lesson. My friend Dee and I enjoyed learning how to make a very sweet soft cookie-like dessert called seker pare. Then, we were served a delicious Turkish lunch--all free and all presented with grace and friendliness. We will definitely return for another cooking lesson! I wrote about another of their events in a recent post when they treated a group of us to a Ramadan style breaking-of-the-fast meal.
Today's photos show the strange landscape and early fortress and dwellings in a region of Cappadocia in central Turkey. It looks so much like another planet that it served as a location for the filming of several scenes from one of the original Star Wars movies.
In a photo above, I am standing in front of some volcanic rock formations on an overlook near our hotel in the region. The odd cap stones are a different type of rock that wears away more slowly in the elements than the softer rock lower down, resulting in the characteristic "fairy chimney" formations. Mark is looking out over the Goreme valley where people from about 4000 years ago in Hittite times carved out homes and villages from the rock. Early Christians also used them as places of refuge and worship; we saw some Biblical wall paintings in a large area once set up as a chapel. This entire area is preserved as an Open Air Museum, but we also saw villages where some of these old carved out cave-homes are still in use right beside much more modern structures. The vertical view is of The Citadel, the highest point in Cappadocia, which was carved out as a Hittite royal fortress. You can click on any photo to enlarge it and view more detail. It was truly amazing to see this unusual region--also humbling to realize how long there have been established civilizations in Turkey, unlike my Northern European ancestors, who were barbarians by comparison not so many centuries ago.
Question of the day: Can you believe that the New Testament chronicles Paul's journeys to Cappadocia without ever once mentioning the weird scenery?