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Pilchards (155g)

March 25, 2018

It might be a very strange subject, yet it caught my eye – the bright red pilchards’ tin. It’s tiny, it could easily fit in your pocket, it’s thin and long, which makes it kind of cute, and very noticable, as the colours are so strong, promising to be hiding the tastiest contents ever.

Have you ever had pilchards? Do you even know what they are? Pilchards are ‘oil-rich’ fish, which apparently makes them an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

The company that puts them into these cute tins says that “they are small, open-ocean fish, which filter-feed on plankton in the nutrient-rich zones of cold currents. They are a staple food for other fish-eating marine life, such as tuna, seabirds, game fish, sharks and dolphins and are only a suitable size for canning once they mature at the end of their second year. Once wild-caught, using the traditional purse-seine fishing method, they are processed and steam-cooked in the can before the final dressing (tomato sauce, brine, etc.) is added.”

They taste nice on toast, yet I like their tin more than I like pilchards. I like it so much that I wanted to have them in one of my paintings – I thought it would be nice to paint a detailed watercolour, but first I went for a quick impression. And no matter how mad this might sound if it has to be quick I choose oils and palette knives.

This time I’ve recorded the process, but just a few steps as it’s really hard to drop everything when you are in the middle of that creative flow.

And so on… and so on…

To cut this long story short – here’s the end result:

I must admit that using palette knives I sometimes feel like a builder putting plaster on walls, but I’m always happy when the end result resembles a painting. And I let you judge if this is the case this time.

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Paintings I’m in Love With (At The Moment)

March 2, 2018

Today is the second day of spring, yet the thermometer outside says different… and it isn’t lying. The snow, that has covered our fields, won’t melt in the next few days as it’s freezing cold over here! We wanted real winter for Christmas (of course we didn’t get it), February should (or at least could) be milder – I think everyone is already longing for colours. The first green leaves of snow drops would be good, but some soft and warm hues would be perfect. Meanwhile everything’s still completely white.

Well, one can always dream about colours… or satisfy this hunger looking at art. Looking at beautiful paintings always boosts my mood and at the moment I’m very much into Pierre Bonnard’s artwork. Have you heard of this artist? Have you seen any of his paintings?

Pierre Bonnard (3 October 1867 — 23 January 1947) was a French painter and printmaker, as well as a founding member of the Post-Impressionist group of avant-garde painters Les Nabis.

Pierre Bonnard, Self-portrait, c. 1889 (image was found here)

I love the colours he used and his brush strokes, that make the view in the painting look as it’s somehow flowing or shimmering – the magic of art, right?

Apparently “Bonnard preferred to work from memory, using drawings as a reference” and “his paintings are often characterized by a dreamlike quality” – I couldn’t agree more! (Information found on Wikipedia) Just have a look at the painting below – it’s so gentle, lulling and even soothing in a way.

Two Dogs in a Deserted Street, 1894 (image was found here)

 

Boulevard des Batignoles, 1900 (image was found here)

But before you decide whether you like this artist’s work you should look at his other paintings – believe it or not, but Pierre Bonnard is best known for “the intimate domestic scenes, which often include his wife Marthe de Meligny.” (Information found on Wikipedia)

Woman With Black Stockings, 1900 (image was found here)

 

Woman Reclining on a Bed, or the Indolent Woman, 1899 (image was found here)

He might be best known for his nudes, but I’m absolutely in love with his “table scenes” and still-lives! There are so many brilliant ones that I didn’t know which ones to show you…

Lunch at Le Grand Lamps, 1899 (image was found here)

 

Mimosa, 1915 (image was found here)

 

The Red Checkered Tablecloth (image was found here)

This was just a short introduction, a quick feast for the eyes, but you can always read more about this artist and see more of his artwork on WikiArt.

The Twelve Chairs – A Long Story

February 19, 2018

The first month this year was filled with art (and other good stuff), yet I kept everything secret. I was painting and reading good books, making bracelets and driftwood sculptures and taking photographs, which means I wasn’t only busy, in fact I was getting somewhere (which is always very satisfying). So for anyone who is curious, lets have a look at what’s been happening in the messy studio.

— — —

Believe it or not I was thinking a lot about chairs. Yes, chairs. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think much about furniture, yet sometimes an odd thought crosses my mind and the ball gets rolling… Here’s your BIG opportunity to see how my mind works. Read on.

At first I decided to make some monotypes or monoprints of beautiful and comfortable old chairs. You know the ones that are quite big, really snug and are covered in pretty fabric? I did some research, drew a few sketches and came up with these:

I kept them pretty simple (sometimes less is more, right?) – I didn’t concentrate on the fabric, but tried to add a few details.

And then… I remembered The Twelve Chairs. Have you heard of them? Or maybe you’ve even seen the film based on this story? The Twelve Chairs is a classic satirical novel by the Odessan Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov, released in 1928. It’s brilliant! If you don’t know it, here’s the plot in short:

In the Soviet Union in 1927, a former Marshal of Nobility, Ippolit Matveyevich “Kisa” Vorobyaninov, works as the registrar of marriages and deaths in a sleepy provincial town. His mother-in-law reveals on her deathbed that her family jewelry was hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of the twelve chairs from the family’s dining room set. Those chairs, along with all other personal property, were taken away by the Communists after the Russian Revolution. Vorobyaninov wants to find the treasure. The “smooth operator” and con-man Ostap Bender forces Kisa to become his partner, they set out to find the chairs. Bender’s street smarts and charm are invaluable to the reticent Kisa, and Bender comes to dominate the enterprise.

The “conсessioners” find the chairs, which are to be sold at auction in Moscow. They fail to buy them; they learn afterwards that the chairs have been split up for resale individually. Roaming over all of Russia in their quest to recover the chairs, they have a series of comic adventures, including living in a students’ dormitory with plywood walls, posing as bill painters on a riverboat to earn passage, bamboozling a village chess club with promises of an international tournament, and traveling on foot through the mountains of Georgia. (You can find more information on Wikipedia.)

Right… so after I remembered The Twelve Chairs I needed to make MY OWN twelve chairs, but mine all had to be different. I managed eight (that I am hapy with) and here’s half of them:

But my thoughts kept wandering… a “dining room set” led to a set of twelve garden chairs that are wooden, very simple and probably not very steady and the most important fact – there’s no way you could hide your family jewelry in them!

My twelve chairs aren’t ready yet, but I’ve already designed some prototypes. What do you think to this wonky furniture?

Now the most important job is to create the biggest monotype print I have ever made. I suppose it has to be standard A4 size (the one above is A5), so that the chairs would be visible. BUT… (there’s always a “but”) the bigger the sheet of paper, the bigger the possibily of putting unwanted smudges by pressing ones hand while drawing. I guess I’ll just have to have as many goes as need be and inform you about the results.

Meanwhile, make sure you watch one of the films based on The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov (apparently there are at least twenty adaptations!).

Silence

February 9, 2018

No words needed here, but…

“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.” – Haruki Murakami

January

January 28, 2018

The greyest month of the year is coming to an end. (It should have been the whitest, yet we’ve had more rain than snow; more warm and dark than cold and sunny days.) I can finally notice a few good changes – the evenings are getting longer and I’m getting fed up with spending so much time indoors.

The so called normal slow routine with goods books and rich food will have to be swapped for more vigorous activities. And I can’t wait! (To be honest now even watching gardening programmes disrupts this cycle: I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a bit too early even for indoor sowing; so much more can happen in February, which is known for its blizzards.)

Meanwhile… here are a few beautiful moments. Even grey can be graceful, don’t you think?

And the last two are my absolute favourites. Every autumn our pond floods, bringing much grief as this kills my plants, yet when it freezes the edges are turned into masterpieces. In my opinion Nature is the best artist on this planet.

How was your January? Whiter or more colourful than mine?

Books to Read

January 10, 2018

The only New Year’s resolution I manage to stick to is reading fifty books a year. For some this might sound a lot, but actually it’s not. Roughly it’s just one book a week – I’m sure anyone could do this, provided they can read, of course. And if you choose a story or a novel that’s very short, this task becomes not that daunting at all, right?

Well, I prefer to choose good books and never count their pages. I love to get lost in worlds that get hold of you and don’t let go till you finish reading the very last word. Some books are like drugs. It might be hard to believe, but they are! For e.g. my 2016 find was an American author Anthony Doerr. His “All the Light We Cannot See” is stunningly good (if you get a chance, do read it). And 2017 is famous for finding an English writer Kate Atkinson. Have you read any of her books? Apparently she’s already published ten.

Anyway, this post is for keen readers, who already know the effect books can have on a human mind, so here’s a list of my ten best 2017 books:

1. Kate Atkinson “Life After Life”

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” Read more…

2. Kate Atkinson “A God in Ruins” (a sequel to “Life After Life”)

“This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.” Read more…

3. Frances Mirales “Wabi Sabi”

Have you already heard this Japanese term – wabi sabi? It can be described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Read this short book and start looking for anything what is wabi sabi in your life. Find out more about Japan and its culture, also learn to enjoy the small and simple things, and love the imperfect.

4. Dörte Hansen “This House is Mine!

A bestselling German novel about two women connected by their experiences in and around a special old house.” I guess this sentence describes it best – “an unusual book that combines emotional depth and humor”. Read more…

5. Liane Moriarty “Big Little Lies”

“Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.” Read more…

6. W.M.Paule Young “Eve”

The strangest book I read last year, only the very last pages reveal what’s going on. I’d recommend it to anyone who’d like to know more about Adam and Eve, God’s unconditional love and the very first sin. “Thoroughly researched and exquisitely written, Eve is a masterpiece that will inspire readers for generations to come. Read more…

7. Yaa Gyasi “Homegoing”

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction. Read more…

8. Jodi Picoult “Small Great Things”

If you’ve read any of Jodi Picoult’s books, you should know what to expect – a brilliant read. “With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Read more…

9. Fiona Barton “The Widow”

One of these books that you want to read in one go. A well written psychological thriller that opens a window into a pedofile’s world. What would you do if you found out the horrible secret your other half is trying to hide?

10. Jussi Valtonen “They Know Not What They Do”

Modern world, the newest technologies and human relationships – this book has been written by a psychologist. Read more…

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If you become a Goodreads member you can easily count the books you read. Set your reading challenge for 2018, keep adding books to your list and at the end of the year you will have some fun statistics! Here’s mine:

I read 50 books or 15167 pages. The shortest book was only 96 and the longest – 581 pages, which makes the average length 303 pages. The most popular book is number 5 in my top 10 list – Liane Moriarty “Big Little Lies”, apparently it was read by 724983 Goodreads members last year.

Happy 2018! (and the Newest Trends)

January 3, 2018

No matter how sad it is to say “Goodbye” to 2017 (although it wasn’t a good year, it’s always hard to see time slipping away), I’m glad we can finally sigh after the biggest marathon of cleaning, decorating, hunting presents, baking and, of course, eating… It’s finally time to slow down… and START AGAIN! How exciting is that? (Over here the new beginning sets in on the 6th of this month, once all of the ornaments and fairy lights are neatly packed in boxes, this means we get some extra days for making big plans for the year that’s just begun.)

The first days of January are perfect to kickoff getting rid of bad habits and replacing them with good ones. Yes, there’s always that desire to make this year different, but how long will it last? If you think that we have 365 days this might seem like a lot, yet it’s only 52 weeks or even better (?) – only 12 months, so, I guess, everything depends on your perspective.

If you think you can’t stick to “once a day” plan, do something at least once a week (or once a month, although this might a bit ineffective) and at the end of the year you’ll still end up with quite a lot of new experiences (fifty-two new dishes you’ve learned to cook, fifty-two books you’ve read, fifty-two paintings you’ve painted, fifty-two sunrises you’ve captured, fifty-two gloves you’ve knitted… use your imagination).

So… New Year’s resolutions – how many have you thought of?

To make things easier you could start with a theme for this year, something simple that would motivate you to make changes (my theme is flowers – I plan to grow heaps of pretty flowers and make the best hand tied bouquets in my area; I’ll let you know how this goes…) and then select your areas of focus, and finally choose goals and habits that you will work on. But if you’re still struggling, I’ll give you a few ideas. Just have a look at the newest trends for 2018.

This is what I managed to find:

Most important words – real and authentic;
Colour of the year – ultra violet;
Lifestyle – more conscious approach to the environment; (This envolves clean eating, superfoods, fitness and relaxation.)
Cuisine – Maroccan;
Foodchoose plant-based foods, reduce sugar and improve your gut health; (Your
nutrient-packed meal should be pureed soup, and don’t forget to add exotic spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander and cardamom.)
Home – resort inspired style, concentrating on the fifth wall – bold ceiling, also statement doors, patterned plants and big wall art;

Fashion – denim jacket is the new hoodie and as for accessories – say “yes” to oversized earrings and patterned socks;
Hobbies – giant knitting + macram
é, also don’t forget to turn your garage into a home workshop – do-it-yourself projects will be mega popular this year.

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Don’t know if this helped, but whatever you choose to pursue in 2018, do everything what make you HAPPY. If you think this might be tricky… simply “rewire” your brain – recall 3 things you are grateful for every day for 21 days.


All the best, K.