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The Great 40th Anniversary Escapade, Part 2: Old Shanghai-once known as "The Paris of the Orient"--and the Vanishing Shikuman Lanes

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I came to Shanghai looking for "old Shanghai".  Too romantic!  China wants to be MODERN.  The first impression visitors to the city get is row after row of soldier-like skyscraper style apartment buildings--and a white polluted sky that never went away.  It was depressing!

There are some charming areas left in the city, but they are fast disappearing. Built starting in the 1860's and called Shikuman style houses, these neighborhoods of row houses with their beautifully carved doorways called  "Stone Hooped Doorways" are lovely.  At the peak, there were more than 6000 homes like these in Shanghai, looping through alleys no more than 6 feet wide.  Inside the doorway, there is a courtyard, a living room known as a parlor, and right and left wing rooms. There is a second story and a roof with living space.  As Shanghai got more and more populous, many families rented out their extra rooms.  These Shikuman Lanes were considered dilapidated, crowded and wretched.  …

The Great 40th Anniversary Escapade

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Travel is transformative.  So is being married for 40 years to Jack Wickes.  So how does art fit into this?

Jack and I have traveled many journeys together including raising our daughters, dreaming,  scheming and planning for life at the moment and into the future years.  We have supported each other as we pursued our careers and our passions.  In spite of meeting as young adults, we have "grown up" together as we have learned the meaning of sharing, sacrificing and giving when the benefit was for the other.

Travel is a passion for both of us.  We have learned that the most fun and productive trips are the ones we take together.  Jack is armed with his cameras and his "good eye" and endless curiosity and I set forth with my sketchbook in my hand, writing and drawing my impressions, which will then be incorporated into future paintings.   Our interests mesh well and we enjoy sharing (and critiquing) the art we have made.

Over the last month, we traveled from Shangh…

Looking for Ai Weiwei

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I paid a visit to the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art the other day.  He has a lot to say.  I shall be on the lookout for his artwork when I visit Beijing in a few days.

Art and Food: Rosa's and Tony's Demo and Dinner

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Tomorrow evening is our long-awaited "Demo and Dinner" prepared by premier chefs Rosa and Tony Hanslits.  A small group of foodie fans will gather at Nicole Taylor's Pasta Shop in the shop kitchen to watch and ask questions, smell the smells and enjoy the wonderful flavors of a dinner prepared by the talented Hanslits couple.

The menu has been posted.  Yum.

Some of us will be meeting this culinary couple for the first time.  But not me....  I have spent time with both of them. Many months ago, as I worked on my "Food for Thought" and "Food as Memoir" sketchbook and painting series,  I asked their permission to "sit in the kitchen" and make drawings in my sketchbook.

At Rosa Hanslits' Nicole Taylor's Pasta Shop, I sat at the big table while Rosa made crostini and her delicious Vodka Pasta Sauce for sale in her shop and at local farmers' markets. Her assistant, Willy,  made pasta in interesting shapes in the amazing pasta machine.…

It's a Wrap

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If you are any kind of creative person, do you revisit your work?  Do you find that "time away" or incubation generates a little more fine-tuning or simply more definition of where the work needs to go?

I revisited my painting, "Le Quotidian", and now it reflects more of my goals as a painter--
figurative,  play between warm and cool colors  and a movement toward abstraction.

Here's the finished "Le Quotidian".  Ready to let it go....I think.

Roman Nose IV

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So after a few tries, I think I got it.  Thanks, Priscilla, for being my model from about 1200 miles.  This is not really Priscilla.  She's prettier.  But THAT'S a Roman Nose!

Searching for that Roman Nose

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I am working on a small portrait using my sister as a model. I have painted that nose quite a few times now.  In our family my grandmother, Lona, --"Dandmama" to all the grandchildren--spoke of having a Roman Nose.  I capitalize Roman Nose because it was important (to Dandmama).

Dandmama prized this classic attribute.  She was beautiful, loved beauty in all forms and Dandmama loved art, so her opinions had weight with me.  My dad had the Roman Nose, as does my sister, Priscilla, and my niece, Alyce.  I don't.  My brother doesn't.  So my current figurative painting, with Priscilla as reference, needs to have that beautiful Roman Nose.  I keep coming close, but then it just isn't quite there.

In an earlier post, I spoke of my former painting teacher's urging me to keep searching.  I am searching, I am searching.  I have to find that Roman Nose--capturing it continues to elude me.

Here is my work in progress.............

When I finally find that Roman Nose, shal…

Cool Hotel

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Well, here we are--hidin' out from the cold, dreary February Indianapolis clime.  I am sitting in southern Florida, a few miles up the road from Miami.  Painting in short sleeves on the balcony.  It's restorative.  It's sunny. It's warm.  It's easy.  
A new environment pushes me to paint new things.  I am still staring at people, tucking them away in my brain, but I am attracted to the architecture and the tropical plant life.  It's the land of ART DECO.  And I never met a palm tree that I didn't like! Palm trees are great graphics.  Swirly palm branches and striped bases.  Love, love, love.  So here's my fresh take on what I see off my balcony today.  Clean lines, cool colors.  Cool Hotel.

The Art and the Model

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Today I was so happy to receive an email with this darling photo spread. It's my sister/It's my model/It's my sister.  Priscilla is my dear little sister and she is my model, too.  I have completed one painting of her and have another one on the easel, getting close to finish.  I asked her to pose for me last summer before I headed to California to a painting workshop and she did all the work!  When I arrived she had two costume changes ready, did multiple dynamic poses and provided the perfect setting.  And a fake cigarette, just for kicks.  She is a local actress, and it shows.  She exudes energy, creativity and fun.  And this wonderful photo shoot shows that off.
Here is my painting from last summer of My Sister/My Model/My Sister.  Priscilla Ball.  What a lucky person I am to have her for my sister!

At Le Pain Quotidien

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Started in Brussels about 20 years ago, I recently stopped in at Le Pain Quotidien in Lower Manhattan.  Translated, Le Pain Quotidien means the daily bread.  Then I learned that it is also a favorite dining spot of my daughter and her husband in Brooklyn Heights.  Rustic, cozy atmosphere, fresh tasty food, coffee  in bowls, communal tables and a great place to make drawings.
Here's my version of Le Pain Quotidien.

Making art in the New Year

Getting ready to take up the brushes again in the new year.
I came across an interesting discussion in "The Age of Insight", a thoughtful book by Eric R. Kandel. Here are some questions he poses and here are some questions I will ask myself this year--
(in no particular order)
•How do you give visual form to ideas?
•Why is this idea worth a painting?
•Do you want the truth or just something beautiful?

Here's to good work in 2013....
Happy New Year!