Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Basics…

Yesterday I was motivated to work on mixing my own watercolors. The stars were aligned and I finally had all the supplies I needed. What had delayed me was not having watercolor half-pans to store the finished mixes in, but the last time I ordered a book from Amazon I remembered to order the little, white pans.

On our travels I had collected dry pigments as souvenirs. The first time was when we visited Roussillon in Provence back in 2013. (This may have been what spurred me on, also: we are taking an OLLI class through CAL—six weeks of talking and reading about Provence. It is bringing back lots and lots of memories.) In the Fall of 2015 when we were in Venice I visited a store that, among other things, carried pigments.

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Roussillon

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The red cliffs around Roussillon

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Venice

colors

My paint! The larger bottles are the pigment from Venice. (No, I did not have to carry those jars in my suitcase. They came in plastics bags and I put them in the jars from The Container Store after I got home.) The small vials are from Roussillon. The pigments are mixed with gum arabic and a bit of honey on a sheet of glass. Always wear a mask because the pigment in powder form is bad for your lungs. My only trouble now is I have already used up all the available half-pans so have to get more. Did not even get to experiment with my yellows and reds, yet…


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My explorations…

A few months ago my stirling husband became so disgusted at the way our old iPad was working (as in slow and not responding) he decided to upgrade the device. His solution was to buy me a new one so he could remove all the photography apps from the old one. His goal was not to have them interfere with his reading and playing Sudoku. It worked for him and worked for me because I now have a new iPad Pro and Apple pencil. I have been blissfully happy trying to improve my skills. Here are my first excursions into the world of the Procreate App. What I liked about the process was taking photos from events years ago and reusing them. It was like I had a secret memory embedded in the images.

This was the oldest image that I took when I first retired. We were on a road trip and stopped to visit my lovely niece in Eugene, Oregon and she took us over to the Cascades Raptor Center. They have a beautiful Eurasian Eagle Owl and in my new version he got a new collaged background.

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This image was from our last trip to Venice. It is a lesser known dome taken as we passed by on the vaporetto.IMG_0090

This was an altered image from a museum visit combined with some embroidery by an outsider artist that I took the first time I visited the Biennale in Venice. The peacock I photographed during my 50th high school reunion two years ago that took place at the Arcadia Arboretum. It was a challenge to get all the elements to fit but I learned a lot at I worked on it.IMG_0121

Of course, an image from Morro Bay and some lowly old pigeons…IMG_0110

An animatronic toy from a toy museum in a castle near Stresa, Italy. IMG_0079

I was trying hard to learn how to use the Procreate App with its amazing abilities. I am a long way from mastering it but totally enjoying the process of trying. Other apps used in these images are Brushstroke App, Repix App, and Over App (for letters).


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A weekend…

I was motivated to make a movie of our recent weekend in Morro Bay. I had taken a lot of short clips of crazy elephant seals, sea otters, birds, and surfers. Plus I was interested in seeing if I could make the entire film on my iPhone6. It has a larger screen than my previous phone and even though the iMovie app is not as complex as the version on my laptop I thought it would be interesting to see what could be done just with the one mobile device. Here it is: (Don’t forget to click on the small square in the lower right hand corner so that it displays full-screen. You really can see many more details in the images.)


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Down by the dock of the bay…

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Last weekend was the annual Bird Festival in Morro Bay, California, and we spent five days on the Central Coast enjoying, for the most part, lovely weather. Saturday it was smooth as glass as we glided on the Bay.

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Sunday, however, there were record swells over the breakwater (although the surfers did not mind) and a certain stormy-ness to the environment.

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Terry was off on a field trip somewhere and I wandered. The weather forecast was for rain for the rest of the time and I thought I might miss my “morning sunrise with coffee” in front of the rock because of it. I suspected I needed to walk any opportunity there was when it was clear, because otherwise I would get drenched. I set off…

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I had hoped I could collect items as I beach combed so I could compose small still-lifes in the sand. It turned out, however, that the tide had been extremely high but was now on its way out. It left a thin line of debris at it highest point that you can see behind the gull above. Lots of feathers were mixed in with shards of seaweed and all I had to do was bend over and take pictures of what pleased my eye.

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Goats…!

The Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm was on our agenda of visiting places while in Tuscany. A wildlife-friendly farm with 300 goats and 12 large, white Pyrenees-type dogs protecting the herd from wolves.

Listen up, I am in charge here...

Listen up, I am in charge here…

Oh, I do not think so...

Oh, I do not think so…

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The goats are grazed on these hills of neighboring farms supporting the organic nature of the vineyards…

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There is a retail store with yarn, soaps, and woven items…

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The owner, Marcie’s friend, Nora, told us about the processing of the cashmere. (Of great interest to me, a former spinner and weaver. I even used to teach my art students how to spin wool using a knitting needle and a russet potato as a drop spindle.)

This was a very nice excursion.

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And the doves were nice, too.


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Where have…

Where have you been? Sorry, blog, traveling again, but with weak access to the internet, so my plans to blog were scuttled when the iPad wouldn’t save and I only managed a few flics on Facebook the whole time.

We went to Italy (not a big surprise) and for eight days we were in an agriturismo in the Chianti region of Tuscany near Florence. After that we took the train to Venice and stayed for two weeks in an Untours apartment. This was the general outline…

The People…

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From the left: Marcie (also known as Marcella when in Italy), I have known since our thirty-year-old sons were in third grade. Around ten years ago she left Northern California and moved to Florence. She now lives in Toronto, but she still has masses of friends in Italy and she was the spark behind the first eight days of the trip. Next to her is Carol who has been on the same shift at the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital with Terry for years and years. (Carol’s husband is not retired, yet, so he did not join us.) Giovanni who owns the agriturismo where we stayed, (also, he drove the van). Bill and M’Liss are on the far side of the table. M’Liss I have known since the thirty-year-olds were three and we were in a baby-sitting co-op together.

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Giovanni by the van (maybe the greatest host ever!)

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The agriturismo had skies like you wouldn’t believe and we were supplied with olive oil and wine from the fields surrounding our farmhouse.

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Nobody actually went in the pool. (No time, we were off seeing the sights!)

The places…

First morning (we got there on Monday and our first full day was Tuesday)…some went horseback riding at the Vecchio Texas Horseranch in the direction of Sting’s property and vineyards. (If you pay Sting enough money you can harvest his grapes for him!) The rest of us went to the market in Figline.

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That afternoon, (after a great lunch that included pici pasta (long and thick) and cinghiale ragu over tagliarini) we headed to the Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm. Three hundred goats are guarded against wolves by twelve Pyrenees-like dogs.)

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Great sky there, too…and then a quick stop in a lovely little town called Radda in Chianti.

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Then on Wednesday, there was wine tasting in Panzano and a cooking class in Greve.

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Oh, yes, there was a lot of eating, too…

On Thursday, we drove to a nature preserve at Montepulciano and then spent late afternoon walking through the hill town of Montepulciano.

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There was a group that went off on a bike ride (or maybe it should be admitted that they got lost on a bike ride…)

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The clock tower in Montepulciano.

Friday was our first day in Florence with a hike up to Fiesole where Leonardo is thought to have tested his flying machines and then while most of the group toured the Uffizi with Marci’s friend Anna, Terry and I visited the Brancacci Chapel in search of frescoes. That evening we had aperitivos with more of Marci’s friends (Christina and Luca) in two different places. One a converted prison and the other the top of a hotel with a 360° view of Florence.

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Saturday we harvested grapes for Giovanni and his family and they gave us a fabulous al fresco lunch.

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Dinner that night was Christina and Luca serving us venison and polenta…

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Sunday was a hike with another friend, Malo, who is a basket maker and artist. She led us over to her house where she gave us a “snack” under her grape arbor…

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That is a fabulous candle holder made out of two wine bottles…

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Dinner was in the local restaurant…

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Monday was the big day! We climbed the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo…Carol got her portrait done by Kelly the street artist…and we visited Piazzale Michelangelo for some great panoramic views of Florence (cold wind, though)…

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Our last day, in this part of Italy, we spent visiting another hill town, Volterra. That night there was a big BBQ cooked by Giovanni and attended by lots of Marci’s friends from different parts of the world. Much toasting to the great week.

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The next day (Wednesday) we were on the train to Venice for two more weeks of adventures, more great skies, and meet-ups with friends.

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This is the outline and I plan more posts with greater detail. If you want to see the week in Chianti from Marci’s perspective you can go here for her blog.


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Miró and tapas….

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Before getting to enjoy the balcony with double pillars in the front of the Palau de la Musica Catalana, we were treated with a small exhibit of the work of Joan Miró.

From the website describing the show…

The interview Miró granted to Georges Charbonnier in 1951 gives us a few key clues to understanding the essence of his work. To the question of whether the artist “has to put down roots”, Miró replied, “The roots of the land. The roots of the earth. Without in any way taking the earth to mean the motherland. I am talking about the earth that makes trees, a flower, a vegetable grow.” This point of view meant he attached great importance to popular art: “A plate made by peasants, a pot to eat soup from, are for me as wonderful as a piece of classical Japanese porcelain displayed in a case in a museum.” And from a taste for objects to sculpture is only a small step: the artist is driven to sculpt “for the direct contact with the earth, with stones, with a tree. When I stay in the countryside, I never think about painting. On the contrary, sculpture is what interests me.”

The pieces on display in this room, from the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, are these words made solid; both the photographs by Joaquim Gomis, taken in the studio on the Passatge del Crèdit in Barcelona and at the Mas Miró in Mont-roig, and the sculptures by the artist himself. The former because they are visual testimony to Miró’s love for the elements of nature and for everyday objects, and also to his first pottery and sculptures, created from 1944-1946 onwards. And the latter, the sculptures, because a decade later Miró started out once again from objets trouvés to construct, by casting them in bronze, what are in fact assemblages of the objects he gathered and collected with such passion.

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Then our group was led out onto the balcony and, when I looked over the side, I could spot the restaurant where we had eaten lunch. They have a very good deal and excellent food…so, here come my pictures of food!

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Tosca seems to serve just about all day long, but for lunch they have a fixed priced meal where you get to choose three choices from their tapas menu and since there were two of us that meant six tapas to share, plus drinks.

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Calimari

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Patatas Bravas

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Salad

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Empanadas

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Pork

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Seafood Risotto

Really, I am only going to make one post about food…but since the topic is Miró, it brings me to my memory of strolling down La Ramble to one of the Barcelona markets (there are markets all over the city, but this was our destination walk to possibly the most famous). Just outside of the market in the middle of the walk way  is a large mosaic in the street done by Miró.

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(Plus, there was this really cool building that contained remnants of when it was built. Originally, it was a store to buy umbrellas and it still contains umbrellas and a dragon on its facade…mosaic, of course). A pause in our stroll for the umbrellas:

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The entrance to the Mercat de la Boqueria:

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Yes, there was quite a hustle and bustle and we were even there early. We made our way toward the back (Rick Steves says the food stalls at the back are less expensive than the ones near the entrance.) We found two stools so we could slide up to the bar and started to order. Lots of chaos around us, good service, and lots of fun.

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The menu above where they are preparing the food.

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Our waiter

Albondingas

Albondingas

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Croquettas

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Another day, another order of calamari, this time with a caprese salad

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I loved the food in Spain, but being at home I am having a difficult time going back to no starches. While in Spain the starches were balanced by all the walking so there was no discernible damage. Unfortunately, at home it doesn’t quite work that way…Miró and tapas are not really connected, but if you are in Spain it is hard not to experience both repeatedly.