Neighborhood Wildlife

PSA: if you aren’t backing up your photos on your phone, make a backup plan now. I lost some pretty sweet process photos and my holiday snaps when I shattered my phone. Boo!

Anyway, I’m hip-deep in works-in-progress right now, so have some adorable photos of my neighborhood anoles:

We found this guy on our walk with Gabi around the neighborhood looking for fun photos of plants fighting for life through the urban environment.
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Anole in the Wild

And this guy just showed up and started flirting on our porch railing! Oooh, baby.
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I’ve been really enjoying learning to paint with oils in the last few weeks. I just started, but the studio and class time have been SO worth it. Oils are awesome.
I’ve still got the acrylics set-up, too, and am working in colored pencils and watercolors for some products.

What I’m really excited about are the textile projects. Not just the quilts, which are challenging and exciting enough, but also some intriguing ideas for other fabric art. Can’t wait to share more about those once I have some process photos and know if the outcome will work. Ah, experiments.

Quilt Festival 2015 Report

Houston had a Quilt Festival, and it was awesome!

So many wonderful works of art. The special exhibits were amazing. I took a lot of photos, some of which were more impressive than others. (Turns out it’s hard to tell the photo is blurry on the tiny screen of my camera.)

Big Love, modern quilt design based on sound wave pattern of the word LoveThis one is a modern quilt based on the wavelength of the spoken word “love”. I really did not expect to enjoy the modern quilt section as much as I did. The whole idea of traditional piecing is not terribly appealing to me, but I can see how the modern quilt movement uses geometric piecing to create new, innovative designs that feature different patterns of quilting. Exciting! photo of an art quilt featuring lotus flowers and koi fish
This one uses an intriguing layering technique to create the illusion of depth in the water where the koi fish are swimming. It’s a great visual trick.

photo of quilt designed to resemble Hokusai's Wave made with tiny square pieces
Tiny squares seemed to be the order of the day, although the traditional hexagons were still in heavy rotation. The pixelated look is very ‘in’. This was one of the most appealing of the pixel-y ones.

There are several hundred photos in the Flickr set. Go get lost in them. I’ll wait.

It’s All in the Dress: Star Wars Costumes at the EMP

During our family trip to Seattle in September, we visited the Experience Music Project while they were hosting the Smithsonian’s Star Wars: The Power of Costume exhibition. I am a huge Star Wars nerd, of course, although my obsession pales in comparison to a few folks I know. Having so many Star Wars friends, though, means that I regularly get to discuss things like the philosophy of the Jedi, the world building of the six films, comparisons of characterizations in novels and novelizations, and many other very exciting tidbits. Feel free to ask Star Wars questions to get us started on a discussion.

Sleeve Detail, Yellow Handmaiden gownSleeve detail, Packing dressThe exhibit features a LOT of costumes for Padme Amidala, of course. The prequels were full of her costumes, and those of her handmaidens. Interestingly, there were also a lot of photographs and notes about the influences for those costumes. Mongolia and Japan are two very obvious influences that are discussed in the exhibit, but tons of other images and concept art are included, too. I became very interested in the Royal and handmaid costumes, especially the sleeves. They are very elaborate, with multiple layers, and often extravagant embroidery.

 

Jedi Knight in combatAt a certain point in the exhibition, you’ve seen a dozen or so standard humanoid male Jedi outfits, and you wonder how in the heck anybody fights in those draperies. Such sleeves, such robes! Seriously, learning how to fight with a lightsaber must involve a lot of Force-manipulation of fabric, or every Jedi would end up slicing his outer robes to ribbons in a duel. The outer robes often come off, in the films, to reveal the Jedi battle clothes, which are many soft layers of tight-fitting linen-type fabrics. They’re very nubby textured in person, and the layers fit over and under each other in a very elaborate manner. Even Darth Maul’s Sith robes are rich with tiny pleats to make the “skirts” of his robe flare when he does his spinning stuff.   Battling Jedi and Sith  

The Evolution of PalpatineOne of the interesting set-ups at this exhibit was the progression of Palpatine from Senator to Chancellor to Emperor. The mannequins change their posture, even, to reflect his increasing Evil. His clothes become more tent-like and stiff as he progresses through the prequels, layers and layers of brocades, but by the time of A New Hope, many things have been streamlined and simplified, including his plain black robes. They are very reminiscent of Jedi robes, in a way that his Prequel costumes were not, perhaps a reflection of his conviction that the Sith ways of the Force were now reigning supreme? It’s hard to consider the films’ influence on each other going backwards, but there is definitely a feeling expressed in the exhibition text that the starkness and uniformity of fashion and uniform in the Empire is a deliberate contrast to the almost ridiculous variety and richness and intricacy of Late Republican fashions. The details in some of the other costumes are great, too – from bounty hunters to sand people, every inch of costume had somebody thinking about it. I highly recommend this exhibit if anybody is going anywhere near it. And I’d love to go see it again, maybe in a larger venue where they will show more of the available costumes.   Untitled

 

There are two cool books out (that I covet, of course, but the Library is a beautiful tool) about Star Wars costumes:
      
(Yes, those are affiliate links.)

MFAH Members Morning with Monet

It isn’t often that one encounters a giant line at the MFAH, at least in my experience. Sunday morning, though, was the members’ only early entry day to the exhibit Monet and the Seine, and also the final day for the exhibit. As a result, when we got there the line was out the front door, and it just seemed to get longer as we waited:

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I fully understand that they can’t let everybody in at once, and it was obvious that the staff had not at all anticipated such a turnout. What was it about Monet? Or was it the special early entry? Who knows. In the end, Erin and I got in at 11:30ish, and Mom and Beatrice went in straight away. They’d printed their tickets at home.
The exhibition itself was fascinating for me. As with so many Impressionist paintings, I am amazed at how much control the artist shows over their medium and their subject, while still being loose and dreamy in their actual application. I mean, the light of the river reflections was so real in some of those images, yet up close the canvas is just a bunch of random-seeming blobs of paint. This is why we have to step back and look from a distance even while we’re working, yes?
One interesting thing this particular collection did was gather several similar views of the river that were painted on different days and at different times. I really liked seeing those works next to each other on the wall. Not only could I clearly see many different techniques across the canvases, but to watch the way he approached the changing light across a single landscape was intriguing.
Painting from Monet and the Seine exhibition
Basically, I wandered the exhibit saying, “I just want to hug them!” and worrying the security guards.
After Monet, we went across to the gift shop, by way of the Wilson Tunnel installation by James Turrell. Always a great place for a selfie.

San Antonio Album

Erin and I spent last weekend in San Antonio. We toured Mission Trail, taking pictures and painting. I got a couple of great paintings out of it.

I’ve got some great photos up now, including this one of the mission cat at Espada.