So. It's transition time, and as I said before, I am doing an awful job. I am trying to give my cooler weather clothes one more go before summer. I bought this dress in London ages ago it feels like, and had a hard time wearing it. It had mini shoulder pads, and today I took the plunge and cut them out. I feel much better in it now. I said to my mom that this dress used to have shoulder pads and she said "I know, I saw them in the bathroom." So silly. And once again I got to wear my newish shoes! Very pleased.

I am trying a new lipstick. It's called "Bi" and its Mattese Elite brand, exclusively Ricky's NYC. One of the Retail Artists :) made me try it, after changing my look. It's hard to tell (I tried) but I think it's kinda like a Bubblegum Pink.

Also, today was one of my first attempts at using a tripod... lawd. It was work. I can't say I am a fan, but I suppose it's the best way to take pictures when my favorite photographer is not available... I foresee improvement in my future.


Just One of Those Days....

I over-wear this striped shirt, this pleated skirt, but under-wear these shoes.

I went on a maaaajor quest to get these shoes while I was in London. Major. I was looking for heels with fuzzy accents. At the time everywhere and everyone had them, well so I thought. That is where I was very wrong. I decided one day to look for these ideal shoes in... Topshop, River Island, Dorothy Perkins. I even bought a pair (and returned them, unfortunately) at TkMaxx. But finally, I found the ones I wanted at a Spanish chain called Bershka. Too bad, they did not have the size I wanted at the store I was at, or any store in the city. Thankfully, they put me on some list, and called me when they got them in. Whew. I love them, but they are so hard to wear, both literally (gosh) and I find it so hard to put them along side ensembles. Now with the weather warming up, I am afraid I am running out of time to wear them. So today, was just one of those days...

This is my new Essie nail polish, "Borrowed &Blue." I have been eying it for a while now, as it is prominently displayed at work. So in the depths of my "redundancy despair," I bought it!!

one of my fav belts


something(s) new...

I think I have become a little restless, a little bored, and a little tired... I might still have the "you have been made redundant blues" or the "fired embarrassment symptoms" or even  the "half unemployed syndrome." All of these maladies and ailments, along with the chronic and deadly "no monies anxiety disorder," have resulted in impulse buying...

and a new look....

We see how long this one lasts


The Civil Wars...

Since I studied abroad for the first time, three years ago (?), I have been way lost and not up to date in music. I reignited an affinity for dance music (trance, house, funky house, drum and bass...etc), so that ruled my life. Right now, like many people I am playing Adele's newest album 21 over and over, but another duo has taken my interest. The Civil Wars....

My parents were deciding whether or not they wanted to go to this concert, included in the American Songbook Series a few months ago. My mom was listening to some of the songs on YouTube, to try to get a feel for the musicians they were thinking of going to see, the Civil Wars. Of course, from that moment on I got hooked.

The first song I heard was called "Poison and Wine." It was featured in a Grey's Anatomy episode. I think it's a beautiful song. The lyrics are so rich with the contradictions of love and life that we all seem to experience, ie.

You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to
Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
Oh you think your dreams are the same as mine
Oh I don't love you but I always will
The less I give the more I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don't have a choice but I still choose you

This song is particularly and oddly meaningful to me, because currently, I find myself spewing contradictions in my fiction endeavors. Not only using words that contradict and do not link in describing the same thing, but a kind of contradiction in emotions. Maybe one day, I'll show you...

"Poison and Wine" is not the only song that is founded on contradiction in relationship. "To Whom It May Concern" is yet another love ballad, describing this love story that has yet to happen, and may never come to pass.

Why are you so far from me?
In my arms is where you ought to be
How long will you make me wait?
I don't know how much more I can take
I missed you
But I haven't met you
Oh but I want to
How I do
Slowly counting down the days
Till I finally know your name...

Not all of the songs featured on their album "Barton Hollow," are love songs, but many of them are. Some are more up beat than others. I don't know if it is the music that I truly appreciate. My sister says it sounds like "hick" music.

But it may be the lyrics and the harmonies and dissonances of the two's voices and the words that appeal to me most. There is a real poetry in their lyrics which I definitely appreciate; a sincerity and honesty that is sometimes lost in popular music today. The Civil Wars' lyrics demonstrate uncertainty in situations and emotions, giving reassurance that not everything is always black and white.


Light a Fire in your New Shoes...

Remember those shoes I was lusting for...?
Well I got them.... and it's exciting! This is one of my first times wearing them! I had been dreaming of these shoes and what to wear them with. Now my dreams have come true...



Birthday Blues... :)

Yesterday was my favorite's birthday. He had a very specific birthday request, a blue velvet cake. I have made red velvet cakes before... one for valentines dayish... one for boredom, but never a bluuueee velvet cake. So making this special cake was an adventure... but deffo worth it :) xx

 We used this Paula Deen Red Velvet recipe and modified it for our blue needs (blue food coloring instead of red). So I am just going to share picture high/lowlights.
creamed butter, sugar, eggs... adding blue stuff

eep...blue? green?

We might have had a little color mishap. We bought just a little bit of blue food coloring, and found what we thought was blue at home. It turns out it was green. So the cake is a bit of a mix. The color of the cake became a topic of conversation for a while, multiple times.
I am distraught by the aquamarine tint of the cake
out of the oven...cooling
The hardest part of making a cake, is waiting for the layers to cool before frosting. Some of us are more patient than others, but it is deffo agonizing for us all. I always want to frost it right away, but then the frosting melts on the still warm cakes, and that does not always end up pretty. So, I wait... Ugh.
cream cheese and fluff frosting... mmm
1st layer
apparently I was over eager
3 layers
I had such a hard time frosting this bad boy. It was a mess. Blue and fluff every where.  I might, next time make a little extra frosting, just in case. If it's not needed, then cream cheese frosting and graham crackers go so nicely :)
frosted... time to decorate
We decided to be kind of minimalist in our decoration. I generally like to play around with different shapes and frostings, but the Birthday Boy made up his mind. Coconut and a "J" (aka a candy cane cookie cutter) of blue sprinkles.
adding the J
Finito- so cute
So. I was really excited to cut it and see the inside. But it was hard to capture a good picture during the flurry of Birthday excitement, but I am going to give you what I got. It tasted delicious, sweet, buttery and blue. I know the Birthday Boy enjoyed it. And we all ended up with blue tongues... yum.
cookie monster cake!


Art in Motion...

So.  If you thought I was done talking about Downton Abbey, you were incorrect. Of course I found another twist on the appeal of "period dramas" for me. I know little to nothing about cinematography, except I know what looks pretty and is effective visual storytelling. But that's about it. I am beginning to learn that how a movie is shot adds to the narrative and sometimes the emotional aspect of the plot. Cinematography lets the viewer into how characters think and feel, as well as reveal the director's vision.

While watching the mini series, the cinematography, setting, and blocking also struck a chord with my art history junkie self...

This moment taken from the show, reminds me tremendously of a painting I have studied numerous times by the British painter, Thomas Gainsborough. Gainsborough started as a landscape artist, but evolved to include human elements. Gainsborough is mostly known for his portraiture, and was recognized for being a lead painter of the Grand Manner of Portraiture, which elevated the sitter by demonstrating elegance and the all important quality of refinement.

Gainsborough, Mr and Mrs. Andrews, 1748-49
Although the subject matter is not the same, there is a kind of reminiscence of composition and emphasis. Both images are not only about the human sitters and subjects of the frame, but also the natural context that they inhabit. Much of the space is filled by a natural background, creating an atmosphere of the country, and what the land has to offer, especially in the Gainsborough painting. This is an early double portrait of Gainsborough, where the technique and styling is still developing into what art historians remember him by.

Gainsborough, Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1787
This later portrait executed by Gainsborough, speaks to his more mature style, emulating Watteau's Rococo brush strokes in the landscape background breathing sweetness and refinement into the subject. It is apparent that the artist was looking to match the natural beauty of the unblemished landscape, with that of the lady sitting. I think his more mature style is more relevant to the still taken from Downton Abbey. The foreground takes more precedence than the nature in the background that becomes hazy through the deliberateness of the camera. Though the foliage of the background plays up the sitter's beauty and forces her to stand out.

 This still from the mini series evokes a different kind of genre in the realm of painting. Rather than a portrait, bringing the sitter or sitters into the foreground of importance, this image is focused on the nature and composition, making it fall under the category of landscape. The human subjects are small, dwarfed by the natural elements of the landscape. Also the hardly coincidental framing created by the tree and the horizontal backdrop echoes trends prominent in landscape painting. This kind of framing and the shrinking of human presence, is reminiscent of the landscape masters of  the 17th century, Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin

Lorrain, A Sunset or Landscape with Argos Guarding Io
This landscape by Claude Lorrain, does in fact depict people, mostly in efforts to elevate the image from the lowly landscape genre into a higher level of painting, such as history or genre. During the 17th century and even before then, paintings were categorized, each category were given a level of importance or deemed to require a certain level of skill. Still life sunk to the bottom just under landscape, while genre (everyday life scenes) and history paintings (those depicting myth or stories from the Bible) were at the top, requiring more knowledge and skill to execute. The landscape though, becomes the focus, the highlight of the artist's skill and compositional technique. The way the trees and the ruins creep up the edges of the canvas, creating a kind of frame for the central action, is mimicked in the still from Downton Abbey.

The last example of a still moment from the tv show, brings to mind a more modern era of art for me, Impressionism and its successor Post Impressionism. These movements in art, are even closer contemporaries of the time portrayed in the movie, starting in the 1870s with Impressionism. This kind of scene of every day life, depicting moments of the modern life, echoes the goal of the impressionist artists, living against the rules of the Salon in Paris. This still recreates the lifestyle of the wealthy inhabiting London, and their pastimes.

Even the foliage of the park repeats the same kinds of brush strokes present in the Impressionist works of Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir.
Monet, Madame Monet
Renoir, Bal au Moulin de la Galette, 1876

 The subject matter and composition however made me think of....

Caillebotte, Paris: A Rainy Day, 1877
Seurat, Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86

These paintings epitomize the kind of leisure time of the upper classes, during a time of industrial revolution. Though the clothing is more old fashioned in the paintings than in the still from Downton Abbey, there is still a kind of familiarity between the two, creating an even closer resemblance. The couple in Caillebotte's piece is just walking, taking in the scenery of a more modern and urbanized Paris, like the two women in the still, meandering through the park, wasting time in their aristocratic lives. The people pictured in Seurat's Pointalist, Post- Impressionist style painting, are escaping from the hectic and chaotic city, on a vacation day, similar to the two ladies strolling through a park in the middle of a growing London. Even though they do not compositionally look the same, when I was watching the show, I thought first to La Grande Jatte, just because of its colors and the content of the piece, as well as the umbrellas.

These examples only emphasize that film is like a moving painting, and every moment and angle counts even though to the viewer it is continuous. I think this is also relevant to paintings, as a painter expects the viewer to imagine what happens before and what follows the moment they have decided to depict. I find that period dramas very much play into created art historical time lines, mainly because they are set in times that are not currently our own, as many of the great art works that have been studied and continued to be admired are.

I am going to warn you right now... Downton Abbey, will not be the last "period drama" I write about. They are just one of those things... I relish. xx