Venice

After immersing myself in the fabulous world of Brideshead Revisited for a recent bowl, it’s not surprising that a Venetian element would appear on one of my pieces. Below are pictures of my still pre-glazed Venetian Palaces bowl, the largest of the pieces that will be available for purchase at my sale this Saturday. The first picture is a true work-in-progress snapshot, where you can see my original pencil illustration on the bowl:

And here’s a view of one side of the bowl:

And the other side… Can’t wait to see how it will turn out when it comes out of the kiln on Friday morning!!

Museo del Prado

I spent the last day of my Spanish holiday in Madrid. And a quick visit to Madrid MUST always include at least one trip to one of the top 3 museums: Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemizsa.

Above is an extremely bright picture of the Velazquez entrance to the Prado Museum. It was a very sunny day and someone (who will not be named) tampered with the settings on my camera. The result? EXTREMELY bright pictures which hurt to look at – this is the only one that sort of survived… ANYWAY, below is an image of the exterior of the Prado Museum bowl I recently painted.

Unfortunately I did not take photographs of the interior of the bowl finished (of which I am INCREDIBLY proud and feel equally stupid for not doing my photographic homework as this piece now lives somewhere else). The only snapshots are of the paintings in progress, as you can still see the pencil outlines that are normally removed when the piece is fired. When referring to the collection at the Prado (which originally belonged to the Spanish royal family), I had to include a Velazquez. And if one is to paint a Velazquez, one should go big: so Las Meninas it was! (Please note that I studied Art History in Spain and, therefore, in Spanish. So the names of the works will be in Spanish as that is the way I learnt them!) Another painter whose work is a must is El Greco and I chose his El Caballero de la mano en el pecho.

Below is an image of the other side of the bowl. On the left is Goya’s La Maja Desnuda and on the right El Descendimiento by Rogier van der Weyden. When I showed the finished bowl to my family and friends in Spain, they all guessed 3 out of the 4 paintings, except for van der Weyden’s piece. However, I can’t help but think which ones would be recognized by my Canadian friends. Particularly as the last time I put them to the test, all but one of them thought that the Matisse painting in my MoMA bowl was actually a Picasso… Snob? Me? No way!

Presents

Since I have taken up ceramics, I no longer buy presents for anyone. I MAKE presents. During my last trip to Spain this month, I brought bowls for my mother and siblings as presents. This is the last picture taken of the bowls, which was immediately after they came out of the kiln (and half an hour before I dashed off to the airport afraid I’d missed my flight!):

In clockwise order is a bowl that depicts the church of San Miguel in our village. This is a particularly special parish for my family as it’s where my grandparents, great-grandparents and sister Rocio got married. My mother was baptized there as well. And to make it even more special, my late father did this gorgeous painting of it years ago:

The next bowl depicts another very special building for our family: the Mezquita in Cordoba. My newlywed parents settled in a village not far from the Andalusian city of Cordoba and the Mezquita was always a place of great inspiration for my father’s work. Here’s one of his paintings from 1976:

And here are a couple of images that document the painting of the bowl. First the inside:

and then the outside:

In the last bowl I wanted to depict all of the birds we had as pets while living in Australia. Here’s an image of it still in process:

And although my father did not do a painting of our pets as such, this illustration by Miroslav Sasek from his book This is Australia pretty much captures the relationship we had with them:

Needless to say, my family LOVED their presents.

Normandie

My lovely friend Rachel, with whom I will be going to NY in less than 2 days, recently came back from a trip to Normandy. Below are some of the photographs she took of the place:

I had been meaning to give Rachel one of my pieces for a long time. Her pictures of the gorgeous city of Rouen inspired me to make her the bowl below:

Very much looking forward to good travel times with Rachel starting Wednesday! Last time we were in NYC, we lost our passports and were witnesses to one of the biggest snow storms that had hit the city for a long time… I wonder what adventures we will have this time around 🙂 In the meantime, I will be absent from my blog, returning next week.

Tilt-shift

With less than a month to go for my 2.5 week holiday in Spain, this video just got me even more excited. It’s a tilt-shift time-lapse. What happens is the lens makes everything seem really tiny, as if it were a miniature scene. The author of such a beautiful video is Joerg Daiber, and you can find out more about him here.

I have just updated my porcelain bullring post with another FANTASTIC video by Mr Daiber. Happy Friday!!

Patriotism

The standard dictionary definition of patriotism reads “love of one’s country.” This seems all very well when there’s one country where one is from and where one lives. But in my case things are a bit different: I was born in Spain, grew up in Australia, and then moved back to Spain, where I attended high school, university and began my career. I didn’t stop there, and moved to the UK for a few years and now I am in Canada.

All this moving around makes me feel less and less connected to my Spanish roots. But during a few weeks every year, I am the most Spanish person that ever existed. And it’s thanks to major sporting events that this transformation takes place. Right now it’s the UEFA’s Eurocup, with Spain playing the final on Sunday. If there was a graph measuring my patriotism, it would have shown that yesterday, around 4pm ET, it hit the records set by the World Cup a couple of years ago. Particularly when this was happening:

It’s difficult to explain the sheer pain of watching a game where your team is not winning but giving it all. In a way it’s horrible, but it’s also awesome. And I welcome the suffering that will be linked to Sunday’s final. In the words of the brilliant Spanish singer Manolo Escobar… Que viva España!!!

Repeats

I sometimes think that we never grow up, that certain traits typical of children remain with us forever. Like when we’d give our parents our best art/craft work. In a way, I feel I still do! What was originally made as a vessel is now a pot in my mother’s living room:

But I miss the design a bit, so decided to repeat it. This time in a bowl:

Salon des Refusés

From the mid 18th century until the end of the 19th century, every year or so the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris would take place in what was called the Salon. Seen as a preserver of traditional French painting standards of content and style, the Académie’s authority on art was undisputed as the works exhibited were selected by a jury of awarded artists. This inevitably meant that there were many works of art that did not make the cut. And so, sometime in the 1830s exhibitions displaying these works started popping up across Paris: Salon des Refusés – Exhibition of Rejects.

In 1863 the most famous Salon des Refusés took place. In that year, artists protested the Salon jury’s rejection of more than 3,000 works, far more than usual. “Wishing to let the public judge the legitimacy of these complaints,” said an official notice, Emperor Napoléon III decreed that the rejected artists could exhibit their works in an annex to the regular Salon. Among the works exhibited were Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (above) and Whistler’s Symphony in White no 1 (below).

While many viewers came only to laugh, the Salon des Refusés drew attention to the existence of a new tendency in art and attracted more visitors than the regular Salon. That new tendency was Impressionism.

Now, in my own way, I too have created a Salon des Refusés. But I like to think that mine are legitimately rejects. I cannot even begin to explain how painful it is to see a bowl not turn out at all as I had hoped it would. Pottery is such a long process… takes ages to finish each piece… Although I normally try to focus on the positive – it’s all a learning curve, etc. – it still is bloody annoying when things just don’t work out as I had expected them to!

Egon Schiele

This should have been a very short and concise post about my self portrait.

But then I thought I’d write about artists and their self portraits. Maybe even curate a collection of my favourites. The first one that came to mind was Egon Schiele.

He has a brilliant collection of self portraits that span many years.

I thought I’d write about him, his brilliance, his rejection by his contemporaries, his very graphic nude portraits.

His muses, of which there were many, but mainly Wally and Edith, who would later become his wife.

How they both died of Spanish flu while still in their 20s. First, the six-month-pregnant Edith, and three days later, Egon himself. How he drew portraits of her during those three days.

But that would make a very sad yet beautifully moving post. So to add a bit of colour I’d also show one of my favourite of his paintings, Seated Woman with Bent Knee.

And how it inspired Peter Lindberg in his 2008 portrait of Julianne Moore.

NOTE: If you wish to know the source of each of the images uploaded, simply click on the image itself.

Dutch houses

Although my head is always buzzing with ideas as to what to draw next, when I actually come around to doing it, my brain melts. Unless I am very determined on a certain idea, I sometimes struggle when I’m in front of a white page or a bisqued pot. And here’s where Pinterest makes life a helluva lot easier for me. To have a “stash” of saved images to inspire me is priceless. Like this gorgeous photograph of the old quarters of the Dutch city of Groningen:

Which inspired me to do this quick watercolour:

NOTE: the photograph of Groningen was taken by Akbar Simonse.