Tag Archives: Art

{G} I’m grateful for…

Getting back to artLife is Beautiful!

Starting some DIY projects

My adorable fur babies

Walks in the park

An inspiring husband

A peaceful life

What are you grateful for today?

{A} My adventures with altered books

Those of you who have been here before know that I’m a regular old bookworm. I love reading, I’m passionate about books, and my biggest pet peeve is a badly-edited book. But, what does that have to do with altered books? And, some of you might be wondering, what are altered books anyway?

Well, an altered book is a piece of art created from an existing book that has been transformed by painting, collage, tearing, cutting, or any creative means. Some artists use a theme for their books others don’t bother with themes and some use old books to create art journals. The possibilities are endless.

altered_books_found_poetry

Watercolors and found poetry

For those of you gasping at this “defacement” of a book – consider this: Is it better to use old, unloved books to create art or to send them to the garbage dump or recycle center? While I would never cut up books like Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved (one of my all-time favorites), I wouldn’t hesitate to cut up How About A Sin Tonight.  See what I mean?

Anyway…I started making altered art books about 8 years ago. I was hooked – not only to altered books, but to art in general. Creating these spreads gave me joy…kept me sane…made me feel alive. Then, somewhere along the way, I started thinking that I wasn’t good enough. I started comparing my art with other people’s art – and not just any people, with the work of popular artists in this space. And I was a complete art novice, so this was a downright silly thing to do. Eventually, I just gave up.

Watercolors, acralyics and found poetry

I did try to get back to the art room on numerous occasions. But I couldn’t. Then, last year, I took some online classes with Melody Ross and slowly, I started coming unstuck. It started, strangely enough, with stitchery. Then I started doodling and lettering. I hated my initial attempts, but with a lot of encouragement from the other girls who were taking the class with me, I stuck with it. I bought some books and started some boards on Pinterest. And – surprise, surprise – I got better at it! Then in February, I got back to making altered books. I’ve done three spreads so far (along with other arty stuff) and I’m really and truly loving it!

Acralyics, water colour and found poetry

I still make mistakes, but instead of beating myself up, I learn from them and move on. And I still don’t think my art is as good as some of the awesome work I see online, but I’m ok with that. Because this is my art, it has meaning to me, and I know that as I continue down this road, I will only improve.

So, be it art or anything else you love doing but think you aren’t too great at it – stick with it, I say! If you love it, practice it. Be gentle and kind with yourself and you will get better and better at it.

Simplify your life with Soul Comfort + a giveaway!

Those of you who know me and who have followed my blog long enough would know that spirituality is a big part of my life. I believe in taking regular me time, in meditating, and in being creative – be it through art or photography, writing or cooking.

In the busyness of daily life, though, it is easy to let me time slide. But life, it can be simple again. Honest!

Just give yourself permission to take a break and play.

And what better way to do it than by using art and journaling as a means to relax and comfort yourself and to get grounded while dealing with the craziness of every-day living?

And what better teacher than Melody Ross from The Brave Girls Club?

She’s launched a new class called Soul Comfort, and it sounds…amazing!

Soul Comfort class by The Brave Girls Club

I had the opportunity to take the Brave Girls Art School 1 with Melody online, and I loved every moment of it! In fact, I’m still working my way through some of the lessons. Her teaching style is simple, and she makes you feel like she’s right there in the room with you.

So, what will you get in this course?

The course is full of beautiful projects to fuel your creativity in very simple and easy ways that are meditational and relaxing , beautiful comforting things that will have your soul infused into them so that you would want to keep them forever.

You can listen to Melody talk about the class in the video below:


And in her words…

You can count on this class to be…

  • enlightening, enjoyable, fun, & simple
  • customizable with many choices to fit your exact style
  • interactive, encouraging, and supportive with a private community on Facebook and weekly live chats
  • a beautiful experience that will help you relax, simplify, and enjoy your life 
  • a place to learn simple new ways to journal, plus the  ”Brave Girl” way to use stitching and such to create both beautiful things you’ll love AND peaceful relaxing moments
  • a place to learn exactly what nourishes YOUR body and soul, and how to fit comforting rituals into your day
  • something that you can finish without feeling overwhelmed
  • produced with the level of caring and  excellence and attention to detail that Brave Girls Club is known for

You can read more about the course on The Brave Girls Club website…and in the meantime, here are some pictures of what you can expect to make in the class.
Doesn’t it make your heart beat a little bit faster?

{Don’t forget to scroll down for the giveaway details!}

Brave-Girls-Soul-Comfort-class

And now, for the giveaway!

This is the first giveaway I am hosting on my site. {drum rolls please!} And the only reason I am doing it is because I truly believe in the course. Plus, I think Melody is a fantastic teacher, and I’m absolutely thrilled that I can offer my readers the opportunity to be a part of one of her courses. 

So, on to the details

The giveaway is for one spot in the Soul Comfort ecourse, which begins on  24 September.

The giveaway will close at midnight IST on Sunday, 22 September. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, 23 September.

Since it’s an ecourse, the giveaway is international!

To enter, simply answer the following question in the comments on this post. It will be great if you also follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page.

What do you think of when you hear the words “Soul Comfort”?

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Loriwilb, and thank you all for your enthusiastic participation!

I wish I could

Wish upon a starI wish  I could live in a cottage by the lake,
read, dream, garden, potter around.

I wish I could spend my time
painting, photographing, writing, cooking.

I wish I was surrounded by friends and loved ones,
talking, sharing, communing.

I wish life was simpler,
relaxed, carefree, joyful, abundant.

I wish…

What do you wish for?

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop

Museum hopping in New York City

New York City is home to one of the most vibrant art scenes in the world. From the brilliant graffiti at SoHo to the many art galleries dotting Chelsea and the sheer number of museums across the city, art lovers are spoilt for choice. So when I was planning my trip, I knew I had to have some kind of a shortlist in place, or I’d probably go museum-happy!

The Frick Collection | Metropolitan Museum of Art | Solomon R. Guggenheim | The Museum of the American Indian | Madame Tussauds | Museum of Sex

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection

First up was The Frick Collection. Founded by Pittsburgh coke and steel industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who bequeathed his New York residence and most of his art collection after his death, the museum has an excellent collection of early Italian gold-ground devotional paintings. Most of these are small panels depicting scenes from the Bible and from Jesus’ life, including Cimabue’s The Flagellation of Christ, Barna di Siena’s Christ Bearing the Cross, with a Dominican Friar and El Grecko’s Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple. Although some of these were quite interesting, and a lot were by painters I hadn’t even heard of, this style of paintings doesn’t interest me much. After a quick stroll through that room, I moved on to the Boucher Room.

This breathtaking room originally served as Mrs. Frick’s sitting room. Hanging on the walls are paintings by François Boucher, complemented with groupings of decorative art objects, including Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain, a writing table by Riesener and an elaborate dressing table by Carlin. And though this room was jaw-droopingly beautiful, I wonder just how comfortable it would have been in day-to-day usage. Surrounded by such exquisite works of art, wouldn’t you always be afraid of spilling or breaking something?

The other room that knocked the breath out of my lungs was the Fragonard Room. The dominant feature is The Progress of Love ensemble, which includes six floor-to-ceiling canvases — The Pursuit, The Meeting, The Lover Crowned, Love Letters, Love Triumphant and Reverie — four overdoors, and four slender panels of hollyhocks. For a while, I was dumb founded, my mind went blank, and my heart very nearly stopped beating. These were paintings that I had gazed at for hours in books. To imagine someone once having lived surrounded by these, and to be actually standing before the original canvases, was almost unbelievable.

The museum boasts other masterpieces such as Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert, Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid, Degas’ The Rehearsal, and Monet’s Vétheuil in Winter; as well as a beautiful collection of sculpture, furniture and brick-a-brac. Overall, the best thing about visiting The Frick Collection is that it feels like you’re visiting someone’s tastefully done up private home with an excellent collection of artwork, sculpture and furniture that you can see in a couple of hours without getting overwhelmed.

Metroploitan Museum of Art

Metroploitan Museum of Art

Contrast this with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, arguably New York’s largest museum. Spread over more than 7 square miles and home to over 3 million works of art, you’ll need at least a week (if not more) to look at everything on offer. If you’re a tourist, and an international one at that, chances are you won’t have that kind of time. To squeeze everything into one day, the only piece of advice I can give you is this: plan beforehand.

Before I even booked my tickets to New York, I had started listing and refining the galleries that I absolutely had to see. I started with a list that was a mile long. But when I actually reached the Met and took in its sheer size, that list quickly dwindled to two, maybe three departments that I had to see or I would cry. These included the Egyptian collection and the famed Temple of Dendur, the European masters, and the impressionists.

Room from Hotel de Cabres, Grasse, recreated at the Metroploitan Museum of Art

Room from Hotel de Cabres, Grasse, recreated at the Metroploitan Museum of Art

Of course, I couldn’t just go directly to those areas. That would be sacrilege! I spent a lot of time gawking at the European and Greek sculpture and sighing over the gorgeous rooms – like the English State Bedroom, Wainscoting from the Chapel of the Château de La Bastie d’Urfé, and The Lansdowne Room – that have been recreated within the Met. I took a quick trot through the arms and armory section, ran through (yes, ran) the Japanese room. I also managed to squeeze in some Islamic art, American stained glass and pottery along the way.

I know there’s a lot at the Met that I did not see, but some of it was closed, and some of it was uninteresting for me. The opportunity to see canvases by some of my favorite painters, to walk through the Temple of Dendur, examine some fine Egyptian artifacts up close and personal…to just be at the Met, was enough. Of course, I’d better start making a list of the other galleries that I would love to see if I do go back to New York!

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum

Speaking of European masters, the Solomon R. Guggenheim’s Tannhauser collection, which includes works by Pissaro, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet and Picasso, was the main deciding factor for its inclusion on my list of museums to visit. However, the collection is housed in one largish room and has only a limited number of paintings on view. Apparently, the Guggenheim never puts its entire collection on display, instead letting out most of its space to showcase the works of different artists.

During my visit to New York, most of the museum was given over to the Lee Ufran: Marking Infinity exhibit. Some of the pieces on display were interesting, but most of them left me unmoved. There were multiple canvases with one line painted either horizontally or vertically, in the middle of the canvas or on the side. It apparently shows the passage of time. But anyone – and I mean even my 5-year old niece – could have painted that line across a canvas and passed it off as the passage of time. I mean, really?

There were also numerous installations of boulders and metal sheets in different groupings and placements, boulders with cotton, with wire…I heard the audio commentaries on the pieces, but I still couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to pay good money to see something like this. Call me an ignoramus if you must, but I do not understand modern art. End of topic.

And so, when I came home after that visit, I moaned and groaned about the whole experience. And the wee sis made me strike MoMA off the list, saying that’s a lot more of the same stuff. I now think it might have been a mistake to not see MoMA, but I was running out of time, and didn’t want to waste money and time to go through another set of canvases and installations that I just wouldn’t get.

A sculpture flanking the entrance to the Museum of the American Indian, New York

A sculpture flanking the entrance to the Museum of the American Indian, New York

Far removed from the heady world of classical paintings is The Museum of the American Indian. The museum is housed in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, which is rich in architectural detail and is one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture in New York. At the main entrance are four huge sculptures of seated female figures representing America, Asia, Europe and Africa – the major trading partners of the US. Above the columns of the main facade are 12 statues representing the sea powers of Europe and the Mediterranean, while above the main-floor windows are sculptures representing the different races.

The exterior elegance does little to prepare you for the gorgeous interiors. The rotunda dome in the main lobby is decorated with two series of murals – one depicting early sea explorers and the other tracing the course of a ship entering the New York harbor. We scheduled our visit to coincide with the Building Tours (45 min.–1 hr. Monday & Friday: 1 PM; Tuesday : 3PM), which took us through the Collection room, where captains had to come in to pay taxes, and the gorgeous Collector’s Reception Room with oak-paneled walls and Tiffany lamps. This room is only opened up for this particular tour, which gives you a more in-depth understanding of the history and significance of the building.

The Collector's Room, US Customs House (now the Museum of the American Indian, New York)

The Collector's Room, US Customs House (now the Museum of the American Indian, New York)

During the time of my visit, the museum also had a special exhibition showcasing the work of internationally renowned glass artist Preston Singletary. Titled Echoes, Fire, and Shadows, the 54 glass objects displayed Preston’s interpretation of Tlingit myths and legends. There were some stunning samples of his work, including a huge glass scuplture titled Clan House, which shows the interior of a Tlinglit longhouse.

The other galleries in the museum showcase various objects of cultural, historical and aesthetic importance, such as tunics, chief blankets, headdresses, jewellery, shoes, and pottery. On weekdays, the Insider Tour (2–3 PM, except federal holidays) – an interactive session with a Cultural Interpreter – offers an insight into Native American life and crafts such as beading, music, textiles and traditional foods.

And finally, onto two completely different museums – Madame Tussauds and The Museum of Sex.

Waxwork at Madame Tussards, New York

Waxwork at Madame Tussards, New York

Located in Times Square, Madame Tussauds brings you up close and personal with the who’s who of celebrities. The Opening Night Party and Gallery are incredible spaces, bringing you face-to-face with Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Robert Pattison, Julia Roberts and more. The Gallery features numerous historical and political figures, including The Oval Office Desk with President Obama and Michelle Obama standing attendance, and the White House press room. The Spirit of New York is the newest interactive exhibit celebrating everything, well, New York! From classic movie scenes to daily New York life, there’s a little bit of everything in this space.

Museum of Sex, New York

Museum of Sex, New York

And finally, the Museum of Sex . Do I really need to say anything about what you can expect here? ;-) I’ll just tell you about two of the best exhibits I saw there: Action: Sex and the Moving Image – an audio-visual walk-through of the visual history of sex on the screen, from the first kiss caught on film through to the rise of the modern porn industry; and the Comics Stripped exhibit, which explores the limitless sexual imagination of comic artists from the 1930s through to the present using humor, scandal and fantasy.

Of course, there are so many, many more museums that you can explore in New York City. But if you’re pressed for time, these should certainly be on your must-see list!

Do you have a favorite New York (or other) museum not listed here? Let me know in the comments!

You might also like:

Marching to a different beat: the difference between India and the US