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What a view to wake up to on a Sunday morning in Matsumoto. And what a thrill to discover another Yayoi Kusama exhibition on our travels.  This one was especially good as it showcased her work from the age of ten, back in 1939, to now. Photography was limited to a few specific pieces and areas, so I can’t show you some of the impressive mirror works or the beautiful pencil sketches she produced as a teenager. Matsumoto is the artist’s home town, so the gallery has gone all out with this exhibition, All About my Love.

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A little way out of the city centre is the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, dedicated to the work of famous wood block print artists. It is a relatively small museum with originals and reproductions of famous prints.

 

We watched a video of the wood block carving and printing process which served to demonstrate how intricate and difficult it is to produce these masterpieces. We had our own chance to make a couple of prints via the use of stamps overlaid on each other.

 

Then it was on the road again to see the majestic mountain portrayed in these mini-prints.

 

We discovered a delightful breakfast cafe just around the corner from our hotel in suburban Osaka this morning. The regular clientele were all elderly citizens, one of whom rushed to clear a table space for us as we entered. We had a breakfast set which included a small potato salad, raisin toast, a hard-boiled egg and tea/coffee for which we parted with the princely sum of 700 yen (A$8.60).

Back to the train network and on to Kyoto. We are staying in Gion, a famous geisha district. In Kyoto, the local word for geisha is geiko or “women of art”.

Our first port of call was the Forever Museum of Contemporary Art and an exhibit of the work of Yayoi Kusama.

Then, a leisurely stroll around the district to see Yasaka-jinja Shrine and Yasaka Pagoda.

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A photograph of this stunning opera cake with matcha mandala drew us in to the Salon de Kanbayashi for tea and coffee.

There were lots of beautiful kimono on show this afternoon. No doubt there will be more to see in the days ahead.

This morning’s street art hunt was a hot one. As I write thunder is making its presence felt, so we’re hoping for a drop in temperature of a degree or two this evening.

Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s mural art is the most distinctive of the street art in and around Georgetown on Penang Island. The Boatman in the photos below is by Julia Volchkova. 

From the 101 Lost Kittens Project, some feline art action.

The steel cartoon art is seemingly everywhere you turn. Today’s samples include a nod to Jimmy Choo who apparently started his interest in shoes in his early years in Penang. Works by Baba Chuah, Tang Mun Kian and Reggie Lee.

 

I’ve been absent from the blog since returning from the US in early November. It might just be because I’ve become a little preoccupied with making mandalas. 

The person I have to blame thank for this wonderful new activity is Bo Mackinson whose mandala workshop I attended at Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp.

As I’m usually awake with the sun (which where I live means 4.30 am in the middle of summer), this is a perfect and quiet way to start the day (after the first cup of coffee of course).

The size varies depending on the paper/card I’m working with, usually either a 4 inch (10.5 cm) or 7 inch (17.5 cm) diameter. Thus far, they’ve mainly been on black paper, with metallic pencils and gel pens as per Bo’s recommendation.

Some of the lessons that emerge for me from this practice are:

  • mostly there is no plan and that can lead to surprises
  • be patient
  • take it slowly
  • experiment with different patterns and styles
  • don’t be afraid if it gets messy – keep going to the end

 

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A wander around the Institute’s permanent collection followed the visit to the Martin Luther exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Here are some of my favourites.

The hanging sculpture is Ahab by Alexander Calder (1953). If anyone knows what the piece on the wall is, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

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I’m a sucker for ancient Chinese horses. Here’s Celestial Horse, a 1st century creation from the Eastern Han dynasty.

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This is Duluth Living Room created by John S Bradstreet in 1906.

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Who doesn’t enjoy anything by Chuck Close? This is Frank (1969).

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In the gallery of works by artists from Minnesota is this painting by Julius Holm. Tornado over Saint Paul. (1893)
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I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon learning more about the joys of block printing. Messy is my middle name. I need to work cleaner with both the pencil and the inks, and be more consistent with the techniques. Still, there are many levels of forgiveness in the process and the results are never known until you peel off the paper. And learn as you go is the mantra.

It’s definitely paying off being a little more patient as far as the cutting of the block goes. Less is definitely more, and each level requires more concentration around what to leave and what to cut.

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The starting point for this print was an old computer altered image of mine. The subject matter, and the fact that the image already had effects applied, leant itself to a little more freedom and play.

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The reverse side of the tracing paper line drawing gets pressed onto the block

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First cuts – what’s going to stay white.

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It took a few proof prints before all the cutting was done.

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The second stage determined what would stay gray.

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One of the final prints.