30 January 2014

New moon/little stars

The imminent arrival of the new moon (10:40pm in Italy) is about to officially usher in the Year of the Horse, so Happy Lunar New Year!

For me, the Lunar/Chinese New Year actually feels like a more natural point to make a fresh start than does the traditional western new year. First of all, its date is determined by the moon, whose waxing & ebbing seem to have a definite influence on my own creative cycles. But it probably also has something to do with the fact that I am usually away from home on January 1st; this means the period before & after is spent preparing to go away/being elsewhere (not to mention that the holidays are inherently distracting, even for someone who favors a low-key approach). As a result, I am apt to return home to a fair amount of chaos—not really the best way to begin afresh. And then there is that inevitable list of things still waiting to be finished up from the year just passed. In any case, January is more of a getting-sorted-out month around here.

I must admit that, even with this second shot at a New Year, I find I am continuing to get organized. (Traditionally, Florence's new year began on 25 March—maybe that's a more realistic date to aim for.) I still haven't finished sifting through my photos & findings from Sydney (which I will share here at some point). The first image in this post does, however, feature some of my favorite treasures from our visit: a handful of star magnets made by my nephews, ages four & five-&-a-half (& who have been Sydney residents most of their lives). I am using the little clay stars to display one of my PaperSynthesis calendars on a magnetic blackboard, & they make me smile every time I see them. A rare day of brilliant sunshine last weekend really emphasized their lovely textures, so I got out the camera for my first studio photo session in what feels like a very long time.

Another subject that got some attention from my camera that day was the mass of Paperwhite bulbs that I had found at the plant market the week before. I will try not to repeat myself, as my passion (some may say obsession) for Paperwhites is already detailed in this post, but suffice it to say I have been reveling in their presence & delighting in watching the bulbs sprout roots & shoots.

By the end of the sunshiny afternoon, the light had managed to coax the very first flowers to split the spathe (as the sheath covering the buds is calledsomething I discovered while putting together this entry about daffodils); you can make out the about-to-emerge flowers in a couple of the images below. The sun was so generous & vibrant that day that, in order to be able to work at the studio table, I ended up donning the trilby hat passed on to me by my sister-in-law at the end of our Sydney visit. I liked how it caught the last of the light as it sat on my sketchpad, next to the Paperwhites (third set of images, left).

And now the Paperwhites are flourishing, & full of sweet little white blossoms. Photos to come if the sun returns before they start to fade...though, if not, there will be another chancein an attempt to hang on to one of my favorite parts of winter, I couldn't resist picking up another cache of Paperwhite bulbs at the plant market today...


 Perhaps I am not as organized as I could be to greet the Year of the Horse, but I have noticed during the last week or so that I can hardly keep track of all the inspiration & ideas that have been flooding in—a good sign, I think. (Maybe it has something to do with witnessing the transformation of the bulbs into flowers—such a good energy to be around.) One thing is sure: it's an exciting place to be. Here's hoping you find yourself in exciting places too...

18 January 2014

Glimpses of red



You may remember my ROY G BIV-inspired posts in the past. The challengebegun by artists Jennifer Coyne Qudeen & Julie Booth in 2012—has begun once again, with RED. I am still sifting through my Sydney images/impressions, and feeling behind with blog posting & blog visiting, but what better motivation to say hello & happy 2014!

I must admit that the light (or lack of it, rather) hasn't inspired me to do much photographing since I've been back, but as I walked home from the post office the other day I passed an installation that appeared in Florence a few months ago & thought, "ah, red—perfect for this month's ROY G BIV!" I managed only a few blurry, dim shots in the pre-dusk drizzle, so returned to Vicolo dell'Oro today to try again. While the sky was an uninspiring white—an invitation for overexposureI suppose the best you could say is that the red bits on the bicycles stood out all the more. Part of a series of cycling-related pieces created in honor of the Mondiali di Ciclismo (UCI Road World Championship) last fall, these 22 sky-bound bicycles scaling one wall of the Gallery Hotel Art have certainly been catching the attention of passers-by.

Below is another piece from the installation: two bicycles parked upon a giant 'hand'-mirror. The red Leica signs continued the theme of RED...

And another unofficial red-themed 'installation', which is in fact city-wide (and starting to reach beyond Italy), also has a presence in this little corner of Florence. In the last few years, French artist Clet has added a new facet to his work: a series of fairly discreet stickers that he places on street signs, rendering them quite whimsical while retaining (or perhaps you could even say, in some cases, drawing more attention to) their original purpose. His studio can be found in the little neighborhood of San Niccolò, by the church. Below are two of the stickered signs marking either end of the short street with the bicycle art.


I was impressed by how many shots of redreally quite necessary to these gloomy gray days, when you think about it!I noticed on my short walk back home...just one of the effects/benefits of participating in ROY G BIV.

Guidelines for the ROY G BIV challenge are here if you'd like to play along in future;
February's color will be ORANGE (followed by YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE & so on).


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