Thursday, November 24, 2011

A giving of thanks to all.

Good morning,

       We once again find ourselves on the day in which we are surrounded by our loved ones and where laid out before us is a wonderful feast flush with all the best trappings of the season. We clamor about the house patiently (hopefully) waiting for the festivities to begin. If seeing those we haven't in some time we catch up on each others lives and share stories of the past. We come together as a family, in whatever form it takes.

       Let us never forget the primary reason for this day, giving thanks. Second to this, and sadly a bit less discussed, is a celebration of community. As such I would like to share my thanks with all of you for all of you, the people who share a bit of their time reading my random thoughts here, and to all those on Facebook and Twitter who's give and take of thoughts, feelings and ideals mean so very much to me. I also give thanks to all those I have the pleasure of interacting with out in the real world day to day. I wish for all of you a most pleasant Thanksgiving.

In closing please allow me to leave you with a little prayer that my family says at every Thanksgiving dinner.

Here at the table now we pray,
keep us together day by day.
May this our family circle be
held fast by love and unity.


P.S. Please do try to dress for the occasion, it is a sign of respect for the holiday and for those around you. Personally I can't imagine Thanksgiving without a jacket and neck wear, in one form or another.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wright tour: Part 1, Home Sweet Home.

Last Sunday Kristina and I made our way out to lovely Oak Park to tour Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio. In my opinion it was a near perfect autumn day with overcast skies and temperature's in the low 40's. My wife most definitely does not share my idea of what represents a "near perfect" autumn day. This was actually my second trip there yet my first time able to complete the tour. Let's not get into why I was unable to finish the tour the first time as it's a bit of a sore point....though I will say this, "with one damn room to go? Really!?!?"

But I digress, the best part of the tour was the new pilot program that allows people to take pictures of the interior of the home and studio. Needless to say I was very excited about this. So with our not as good as I would like camera in hand we began our tour.

The front of the original home.
Here is the inglenook right off the foyer.
I love that there is a curtain closure. It is easy to imagine how cozy this would be on a chilled winter evening.
The original living room with Wright's famous built in seating.
A wonderful drawing table designed by Wright with one of his many Japanese woodblock prints.
Another woodblock print. FYI, because Wright often found himself in near perilous financial difficulties he often used the prints from his voluminous collection as a form of currency.
This is where the original study was, later turned into a small dining room after the studio addition.
The hallway that was built when the studio addition was built. Sorry this is a bit harsh looking, the lighting is bare bulbs and our camera has a bit of an attitude when light levels aren't perfect.
These two are the dry butler's pantry between the casual dining room and the formal dining room. No idea why but I just love this little room.
Formal dining room. With the high backed chairs and the special lighting directly above, the dining table feels like a room within a room, quite warm and inviting no?
The best detail I could get of the scroll work.
The girls room upstairs. Charming is really the only word for it.
Wright's original work studio space, well..a corner of it.
I just loved this little device. It is a projector of some kind. Perhaps a bit of research is due for this one.
As every picture I took of this room, the master bedroom, was desperately wrong here is an image off the official site. Wright designed the windows to look like a Japanese kimono.
Here is the main...only bathroom in the home. The only bathroom for eight people. It is very Shinto and amazingly it.
This was Mrs. Wright's personal room where she could sew, read or just find some time to herself, which I am sure saw more use while Frank's mother lived with them.
My favourite thing in this room was a family portrait with this great diagram at the bottom, such a simple and wonderful idea.
...really just a great idea.
And my second favourite thing in the room? Frank's original passport.
This is the hallway that leads into the coolest room in the whole house...
..The Playroom. Again, not my picture, the light in here was just causing havoc with the camera. Everything here was build for the Wright's children.
This shows (again not my picture) the other end of the room with the balcony where the children could put on performances.
Love the detail in the skylight.
An original set of Lincoln Logs. Everyone knows that Wright's son Jon invented them...right? The general mold for the toy was based on  the architecture of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which was designed by his father. (one of my pictures)
And we end our home tour in the Wright family kitchen, which is possibly the dullest room in the house. No, that's not fair, it most definitely is the dullest room in the house. Trust me, Frank was not known for his amazing kitchen design.

So there you have it, hope you enjoyed our little pictorial tour. This is just a portion of the images I took, didn't want to completely bore everyone. I'll make a post for the second half of the tour, the studio, soon...Friday perhaps. Make sure to keep an eye out.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Joyeux Anniversaire Monsieur Monet.

Water Lillies (1920-1926)
Today marks the 171st anniversary of the birth of one of the biggest, and most confused, names in the history of art, Claude Monet (14 Nov. 1840 - 5 Dec. 1926)...not Manet. Born in Paris Monet's life was devoted to art from almost the very beginning, in 1845 he told his father he wanted to become an artist. By the age of ten he was already well known by the locals for his charcoal caricatures, which he would sell for ten to twenty francs.

At 11 Monet entered Le Havre secondary school of the arts. In 1856 he met fellow artist Eugène Boudin who became his mentor and taught him to use oil paints and the techniques for "en plein air" (a French expression which means "in the open air", it is primarily used to describe the act of painting outdoors) for which Monet would become most well known for. Monet left school at 16 after the death of his mother.

In the years to come Monet gathered around himself a group of friends (Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro) that would become the founders of Impressionism. The term Impressionism comes from Monet's painting "Impression, soliel levant", which many regard to be the first true Impressionist painting.

Impression, soliel levant (1872)
Through the rest of his life Monet was a consistent and prolific practitioner of the Impressionism movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to his en plein air works. In 1883 Monet moved his family to the village Giverny in Normandy, at his home there he created a rather impressive garden with a large lilly pond. For the rest of his life Monet primarily painted on his property in Giverny and created his many "series" paintings, most famous being the "Water Lillies" series.

Monet in his gardens with guest, 1922.
One could easily find worse place to spend one's time painting, wouldn't you agree? In honour of the man's birthday I wanted to share a brief sampling of my favourite Monet paintings, please enjoy.

Promenade near Argenteuil, 1885.
Luncheon on the grass, 1865.
Boating on the river Epte, 1887.
Spring flowers, 1891.
Saint Lazarre Station, 1877.
Winter at Giverny, 1885.
Meditation, 1880.
A corner of the studio, 1861.
View at Rouelle Le Havre, 1890.
A woman reading, 1872.
The Siene at Argenteuil, 1872.
The boat studio, 1876.
Pheasant, 1869.
Trophies of the hunt, 1862.
Happy birthday Mr. Monet.

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