Tap dancing!

When I was a little girl growing up in Canberra, I really really REALLY wanted to learn how to tap dance. I’d grown up watching Fred and Ginger,

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Gene and Debbie (and Donald),

Debbie Reynolds Gene Kelly Singing in the Rain

Anne

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and the great Eleanor.

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However, being a little Spanish girl growing up far away from home, the only dance lessons my mother let me attend were flamenco, which I enjoyed thoroughly, don’t get me wrong. But tap… Ahh tap had always been this dream, for decades… until now. I am proud to say that I am a student at the Sydney Dance Company! Located by the Harbour Bridge, the moment you walk in you feel you are stepping into the set for Fame (minus the leg warmers, apparently they’re not that cool). There’s a great vibe and all sorts of people, joined by their love of dance. Just so you can get a sneak peak into what a class looks like, they have their own vimeo page, which includes a video of a tap lesson similar to the one I’m attending. If you are in Sydney and want to have the best workout whilst listening to swing (heaven?), then look no further.

NOTE: None of the photos are mine. The Swingtime photograph is from here, Singin’ in the rain from here, Kiss me Kate from here, and Rosalie from here.

Rose Bay at dusk

If you follow me on Pinterest, you will have seen a flurry of activity earlier today on my “Paintings that inspire me” board. Particularly with quite a few Raoul Dufy paintings added to it. And just like that, immediately after adding the images, Pinterest worked its magic. I suddenly had an urge to paint something à la manière de Dufy, and very quickly decided on doing a view of Rose Bay at dusk. During my first two months in Sydney, I lived in Rose Bay and took the ferry to work from there. To walk to the harbour every morning and back in the evening was a true blessing. And therefore, a perfect subject matter.

Rose Bay at dusk

I used watercolour and casein on Arches 300gsm paper. But if you want to know a bit more about the process, well, have I got a treat for you! Below is a little film that documents it all. To make it I used an app called “Miniatures Pro” and set it to take one frame per second. And as for music, it’s Dustin O’Halloran’s Prelude 2. Trusty iMovie glued it all together in style. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did painting and putting it together!

 

Sydney on film

Hello hello, Happy New Year! Apologies for not posting here as often, I’m struggling to find time to get to my creative projects (lots initiated, not that many completed, story of my life). However, things are due to change soon. Some lovely friends have agreed to let me set up my noisy wheel in their garden. And best of all, they have just moved nearby.

In the meantime, I have been doing little things here and there, including this short film I made on Thursday on my way home. I was trying to find the Harbour Bridge footpath and got lost….! I filmed it with my Blackberry and edited with the fantastic iMovie. The music is by Rodriguez. I hope you enjoy this little peak into my daily life 😉

Greenwich Village in porcelain

SO OBAMA WON!! YESSSS!! And how is Manhattan celebrating? IN BLUE!!

And this post has just GOT to be inspired by this amazing city, and how it inspires my work once again. But first, let’s go back in time, to 1957 to be more precise, and to Greenwich Village.

A party hosted by Art Ford in his brilliant Greenwich Village apartment and with Cy Coleman performing – I can’t think of anything quite so glamorous and just FUN! And what about the closing illustration of Washington Square? ANYWAY…. I then thought, why not do a piece that captures the fun and sophistication of this era? And so my Greenwich Village bowl came to life.

I painted the outside inspired by Greenwich Village facades with the inside being an Art Ford party in full swing! Then I got excited about the results and did another bowl, this one smaller, just concentrating on the guests and musicians.

And then I just HAD to do a mug as well, this time ONLY with dancers. I have more plans for this Greenwich Village party theme, so do stay tuned!

NOTE: Photo of Manhattan in blue is by Shane Walton, and the rest are by Araceli Robledo.

NOTE2: On my way to Jim and Valerie‘s to deliver their Greenwich Village bowl, together with the MoMA and Central Park bowls they had also purchased, the bag in which I was carrying all 3 pieces broke and they smashed into the pavement. It’s been just a few weeks, but don’t think I have recovered from the trauma just yet…!

Don’t rain on my parade

Yesterday was my beautiful sister Reyes‘ 40th birthday.  I was unable to attend the surprise party her husband had organised for her (she lives in Spain and I’m in Canada). Instead of sending her a video of me, to be projected on a screen, saying how much I missed and loved her, I thought Barbara Streisand would do it much better. “Don’t rain on my parade” is one of the many songs that are part of our family soundtrack, and so it was the perfect choice. Together with my wonderful friend Adam who lives in the UK, in just 3 days we filmed and edited our own music video of the song. Needless to say, Reyes (and my other siblings as well), started crying with laugher and ended crying with sadness when they watched it. Here it goes:

And here’s the inspiration for our video, as it appears in Funny Girl!

MoMA

I returned last night from an absolutely amazing trip to NYC. So much was done and accomplished that it can’t all be condensed into one post. So here’s the first installment, a visit to the MoMA. And what a better way to start off than with my newly-finished MoMA bowl:

The bowl would not represent the collection properly without a Warhol. And a trip to NYC with no references to Warhol would also seem flavourless. I’d already been preparing for the trip, and top of the list was Warhol’s studio on 57 Great Jones Street, where Basquiat spent the last months of his life and died of a heroine overdose. Here’s the front door:

On our way to Cafeteria for the first brunch in the city, we walked by the Chelsea Hotel. It was here where Warhol shot Chelsea Girls in 1966, a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel.

We tried to have a super fabulous ice-cream sundae at Serendipity 3, which Warhol frequented before he was well-known, but unfortunately the queue overflowed out to the street…

But back to the MoMA… and to my favourite painting there: Matisse’s The Dance. Here it is hanging majestically:

The BBC series of Modern Masters shot an entire episode on Matisse, which I couldn’t recommend more, and you can watch here:

Although not on view at the MoMA, for reasons I cannot understand, Robert Indiana’s 1967 LOVE screenprint is part of the museum’s collection. The colours, composition and cleverness had to make it to my bowl. Curiously enough Manhattan as a city recognises the brilliance of Indiana’s work and a sculpture of the piece can be seen on the corner of 6th Avenue 55th Street. Perpetually crowded by people, if I may add…

To make the trip to the MoMA even more memorable, there was live music being played in the Sculpture Garden. But not just any live music, it was bossa nova, magical and perfect  for a warm summer night:

Mauricio Pessoa was the genius behind the end to this magical night. And each time I listed his song Boca no Lodo, I am literally transported back in space and time…

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Colour in our surroundings

Maybe it’s the winter, or that I am a sucker easily influenced by brilliant publicity campaigns (i.e., Kate Spade’s use of Tumblr and Pinterest), but brilliant colours seem to cheer me up like nothing these days. I look at the dull and grey skyscrapers in downtown Toronto and all I can think of is how they could be massively improved by adding a dash of colour. I keep on wearing my favourite necklace over and over again and my wandering eyes crave bright colours so badly that they are continuously scanning their surroundings to see where a spash of pink, orange, turquoise, yellow, green or bright blue may lie.

About a couple of years ago, UK hardware store Homebase created an amazing campaign at Carlisle train station. Adding colour to the stairs and bridge above the platforms was only an element of the campaign, though I think it was the best part.

You can see the entire TV commercial here:

The Rainbow Holsteiner stairs in Wuppertal (Germany) are another brilliant example of where colour has improved an otherwise dull surrounding. They’re a creation by artist professor Hort Glasker and the work is called Scala. The (German) words on the stairs describe the relationship between human beings.

Naturally, I couldn’t help myself and painted my own version in casein and marker pen:

Here’s another example of Glasker’s work, this one entitled Campo Santo:

Painting roads in bright colours also works:

NOTE: The source of the Carlisle station pictures is vickitequila’s photostream on Flickr, the image of the Rainbow Holsteiner stairs and that of Campo Santo are from Horst Glasker’s website, and the source for the final image is from {inside} the loop. Unfortunately I don’t know the author of this picture or where it was taken.

The Tree of Life nominated for Best Picture… why?

As a teenager I used to watch the Oscars every year. I LOVED the show, filled in the printable ballot from the official website with my fellow geeky friends and entered various competitions. I was an Oscar freak. I mean, I must’ve loved it in spite of the fact that it started at 3am (Spanish time difference), on a Sunday (?!), I always had an exam the following day, the Spanish journalists on the red carpet made the worst questions and attracted the least interesting celebrities and THE ENTIRE SHOW WAS DUBBED IN SPANISH! ARGHHHH. Even though I never even came close to guessing who the winners were, I always supported the decision made by the Academy. BUT this year, I seriously think something has gone awfully wrong: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is nominated for Best Picture and two other awards. WTF?

I have left the cinema halfway through a film only on two occasions: some obscure western in the 1990s and The Tree of Life. And we’d only watched it for about 30 minutes. The feeling of guilt for convincing my two friends to watch Terrence Malick’s film was just unbearable and I found myself either saying “sorry” to them every 5 seconds or just laughing at the screen – it’s not a film, it’s someone’s brain mush after taking industrial quantities of LSD.  I mean, can anyone endure 30 minutes of THIS:

We couldn’t… and found ourselves doing our own version in the bar next door to the cinema. It’s even shorter than the clip above and it doesn’t make you want to kill yourself after watching it:

I have done some research into the matter and was literally gobsmacked when I saw that The Tree of Life has also a great score on IMDB. I don’t get it. Part of me wants to rant about the film as Mark Twain did on Fenimore Cooper’s The Deer Slayer, but that would require me to watch the ENTIRE film and I have a feeling that if I did, I’d want to shoot myself after plucking each of my eyelashes slowly…

NOTE: The poster for The Tree of Life is via Film Book

Brideshead Revisited

I’m a big Evelyn Waugh fan. Always have been, since my first year at University (I did English) where I read A Handful of Dust. I was captivated by Waugh’s witty prose and his account of my favourite era of all time: the period between WWI and WWII.

Waugh was  one of the Bright Young People, the young bohemian aristocrats and socialists who lived, somewhat amorally, in London between the 1920s and 40s. Though not born into the aristocracy himself, he joined the club by marrying Evelyn Gardner – and later, left the club by divorcing her (she was unfaithful, how DARE she?!), converting to Catholicism and starting a new family with his second wife Laura.

Once Waugh divorced Gardner and embraced Catholicism, his work incorporated his newly-found faith, which is one of the main themes of Brideshead Revisited. The novel is narrated by the main character – Charles Ryder – and deals with his relationship with the severely flawed but deeply Catholic Marchmain family. Their estate, Brideshead, is the main backdrop where most of the novel takes place and has such a presence that it is almost another character in the novel.

For both the 1982 TV series and the 2008 film adaptations of Brideshead Revisited, Castle Howard, a stunning 18th c. stately home in Yorkshire, was the chosen fictional “Brideshead”.

 

NOTE: The 2 page spread which contains the photographs of Evelyn Waugh is from the book The Same Man, by David Lebedoff (a brilliant book which compares the lives and similarities between Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell)

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

I seriously cannot get enough of Pinterest, nor of Kate Spade tumblr. Below is another GORGEOUS image I pinned. Unfortunately in this case I don’t know who the author is but the street looks like somewhere in Spain.

And as soon as I pinned it I knew I wanted to do this:

Umbrellas, 60s vibe, hmmm… Initially reminded me of Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg!

But then I remembered that, as much as I liked the film, I wouldn’t say it bursts out colour and happiness. And so, another Jacques Demy film I love came to mind, which is all colour, joy and just FUN really: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.

It’s the story of  a pair of artistic twin sisters, born in the sign of Gemini, who live Rochefort. The film takes place over the course of a weekend when the fair comes to town. The wonderful music composed by Michel Legrand with Jacques Demy’s lyrics can linger in your head for hours, thus making you extremely happy and bubbly during that time. It’s like a happy pill! The colourful design throughout the film, cinematography and choreography just add to this burst of sheer joy of the senses.

The cast is also top notch: Catherine Deneuve and her sister Francoise Dorleac (who tragically died in car accident shortly after completing the film) play the twins. Gene Kelly (who was 55 when he played Andy in the film and is still incredibly young and athletic and overwhelmingly attractive), George Chakiris (who can forget him as Bernardo in West Side Story?) and Grover Dale bring a foreign element to an overall French cast.

I could talk about the film for aaaaaaaaaaaaages but it’s best you watch it – and later on agree with me, of course 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The picture of the umbrellas above was taken from Kate Spade Tumblr, via one of my Pinterest boards. The poster of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is via Cinephiliaque  and the images of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort are via Lark About.