Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Painting with a magnifying glass

I am a very visual person. Somebody tells me something and I see it in living color. You tell me a name and I immediately see it written (and very often I get the spelling right too). I read a book and I make my own mini movie in my head.

And my sight was always good. I have needed glasses for work on the computer or to see far into the distance for years but the past 6 years my eyesight was excellent and I could ditch the glasses.

Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed that I had a blurry vision in my left eye. And that did not go away. In fact, it got worse. I was doing my painting with a large magnifying glass in my left hand.
Eventually, after 3 weeks I went to the doctor who send me to an eye specialist in the hospital. Tests were done. Tests that were not fun at all. When the results came back I was shocked. I have cataract.    Cataract?    Really?

Geez, suddenly I feel old. I know that I have my fair share of grey hair (but I will confess, it is dyed a very youthful blonde) but honestly, cataract…   Isn’t that for the old folks? I've only just turned 50. Give me a break will ya!
My left eye has a vision of -3,75 and I see something like this:

He gave me an option of an operation or getting glasses. The way he described the operation made my stomach turn. This time I did not need to use my own imagination, he had pictures. Very graphic pictures. In color. Very detailed. And It would be done without general anesthesia!


Well, I can tell you this for nothing... if anyone coming near my eye with a scalpel, within a range of 10 feet I would kick his or her ass. This simply was not an option for me.
So I am asking about the option of having it with the general anesthesia, and he told me they would generally do this only with small children. Trust me on this; I am big very very small child. He proceeded to tell me all the risks involved with general anesthesia. Not a pretty sum up. And the way he said it...(If you ever need someone to send your guest home after you thrown a party, and the guest linger longer then wanted... THIS would be the guy to have around. 10 seconds of him talking and everyone runs out the door).

He said I could get glasses, and maybe in a couple of months time I could possibly need stronger glasses and again and again. For a couple of years I could have joy and vision with the glasses. For a full 100 percent on both eyes he said, with glasses. But then eventually I would need that operation. No way around it. Slicing and dicing will come my way. No escape.

Fine. In a couple of years time I will be brave enough to have that operation. But not now. For now I will get glasses and look intelligent.

So, because I need glasses I thought I would buy me a nice funky frame. Electric blue came to mind. Purple too. Forest green. Fire engine red. I wanted something eccentric. Because, if you got it, you flaunt it. Right? And I definitely did not want a black one. I want to stand out in the crowd.

Last week Thursday I went to the optician and he did tests as well. Pleasant ones this time and very very thorough. Turns out I have not a -3,75 but a -5,25 and also my right eye had a difference. (did my eyes get worse in the two weeks between the hospital examination and the trip to get glasses?, or did the doctor do a not so good job of it...)  And the optician said that with glasses I will have a 60 percent vision in my left eye. 

                                                                                 Sigh ... just a very deep sigh 

I went to try on frames. All the colors that I wanted. And the models that I liked. One after another were rejected because either the frame model did not look on me, or the color did nothing for me. Finally there were two frames left. One was a metallic forest green one that I liked but the optician said I could not have this frame because the glass I need for my left eye would be too thick for that kind of frame. 

And then there was only one. I loved this one. It looked good (I'm trusting my right eye and the girl in the shop who helped me), it felt right.

And what color is it? ... drum roll please ... Black. 

Say what??????? (insert high pitched voice here) Yes, it is BLACK, but with turquoise accents:


I can pick it up Thursday afternoon. Just one more day. Hoping to ditch the magnifying glass but will keep it handy just in case. And for now I return to my painting WITH the magnifying glass.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Burning that wood, and no... it's not a forest fire!

For years now I have been affectionated with pyrography. Love the fact that you can burn into wood, creating deep burned lines and getting a wonderful smell all at the same time. After the burning you can paint it as I am not to keen to keeping it all "woodsy" in all shades of brown. You are creating your own coloring book so to speak. And I love what Sticks does, first sketch  a drawing, then burn the wood and then color it in with bright colored acrylics.  I did try some stuff myself with a borrowed pyrography machine and that worked out great.

Then I went into a long hiatus of art making, but I kept on looking at wonderful samples on the internet. And unblocking also because of reading The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. And the urge returned. The urge to make stuff. Stuff that would be just as pretty as the ones on internet – more precisely … Pinterest. Just like every one else I have become addicted.

So after a long looooooooong time, I purchased a cheap pyrography machine. And these 2 ravens is what I first came up with.

And the cheap pyrography machine was just that. Cheap. It worked. It did what it was supposed to do... burn the wood. But it also burned my fingers. And then Christmas came. And I got a money present. I knew right away what I was going to do with that. I bought my self a "professional" machine. Well, the best I could afford anyway.

And while cruising the Pinterest boards, I saw this wonderful picture of a tiger. 
LOVE LOVE LOVE the eyes. Totally fell in love with this guy (or girl, who knows)

So I thought I give it a try and first sketched on paper till I was happy with the result. Then I traced it onto a piece of wood and this is how far it has gotten today:

Still have a long way to go before I can call this one finished but I am having fun with it. As far as the professional machine goes, I was hoping it would be the end of burned fingers.... sigh. Nope. But I am loving the process so I will continue. When the tiger is done I have a few more ideas I want to do. I think I'd better invest in some burn salve and plasters.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Artist Date at the Museum of Bags And Purses

We have this amazing museum in town called Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or in plain English: The Museum of Bags and Purses. It gives you the history of the bag and purse throughout centuries and shows you hundreds of beauties. How it started, why it started and who would wear them. So pour yourself a cup of tea and browse through the many many photo's I took. WARNING: Long post!!
And before hand I would like to apologize for some of the photo's because they are not the sharpest. Still have to work on my steady hand while taking non flash photo's.

The museum itself is in a beautiful canal house that belonged to the mayor of Amsterdam of that period.
The house was built in 1664 and has a long and wonderful history.

I was really excited walking in and the entrance is also where the giftshop was. Drool! I showed my annual museum pass which allows me free entrance (!) and was given a little explanation about the museum by a very kind lady. I was to start at the top floor where the oldest bags were and then walk my way down to the lower floors where the more modern bags were she said.

Standing at the foot of the stairs and looking up I saw this beautiful ceiling painting. But then I saw an elevator and took it to the topfloor (yes, total wuz, that's me!)

There I got to see a closer look of the ceiling painting and a look down the stairs.

Can you imagine what effort they must have taken over 300 years ago to do that ceiling painting? Incredible. Further down the post I show you some more beauties.
And then finally.... the exhibit.

My compliments if you read it all. If you have not, it basically says that bags and purses were invented by lack of pockets in clothes where valuables or personal items could be kept. Items such as keys, combs, mirrors, coins, documents, bank notes, bibles, holy relics etc. Also that men would wear them too and not just the dull ones. The richer you were the more elaborate the bag was, to show off your wealth. Nowadays in the 21st century if you would see a man wearing a "man's purse" he is not being progressive but actually he is old fashioned (wink wink). Below is a purse that would have been worn by a man.

Below a couple of gaming purses, or purses where coins and gambling games such as cards were held.

A closeup of one of the bags. Red velvet with gold thread embroidery and gold thread tassels from the 16th century.

Medieval times:

Below a selection of 16th and 17th purses for valuable documents, bank notes etc. All richly decorated.

Then, I was so impressed by the workmanship of the following bags. Beaded bags. Not only beaded but knitted as well. And if you just look at the process of stringing the beads first before the knitting could start, and bare in mind the minuscule size of the bead, the candlelight they had to work with I am just wondering how many of those poor workers would have gone blind in their lifespan.

Just look of the size of those knitting needles. 5 of them!!! Good grieve, I am in awe.

Needless to say that such bags were so labor intensive they were ridiculously expensive and therefor could only be bought and worn by the very wealthy. In the 19th century a new technique was invented to make beaded bags. The weaved beaded bag. Less labor intensive and also quicker to be made and less expensive. Lesser wealthy ladies could now afford such a purse.
Below some samples of the weaved beaded bag.

With exception of the Olympic bag which is from Germany 1928 all the other bags are 19th century.

2 Beautiful embroidered bags with beads. Above is late 19th century, below is early 20th century.

Having finished this floor, I walked to a lower floor where I entered the bags from the 20th and 21st century. Here is where the fun really starts.

Art Deco bags:

Marcasite bags:

Ivory covered:

Travel section below was probably my favorite of everything I saw. I always travel light because I have to carry it all myself. I cannot imagine going somewhere with all of this but doesn't it look fabulous? I was drooling. Loved it all. Oh be still my heart...

A selection of 1950's bags:

So very Doris Day:

Fashion bags:

Contemporary bags:

I thought this one was a hoot. Yes, I would walk with this bag:

This actually is a real can of diet Coke, cut in two, hinges and a lock was added and lots and lots of bling.

By this time I was so tired and seeing this can of coke made me realize I was thirsty.
As luck would have it there was a tearoom. YES, my prayer was answered. I still had one more floor to see, the ground floor with a collection of bags that you could also purchase. And then of course there was the giftshop to visit but first I wanted tea.

The tearoom with the sunroom in the back.

A selection of goodies. And do you see those bags on the counter?

You could buy 3 bottles of wine and you would receive it in this wonderful gift bag. Shame I don't drink wine. I sure wanted one of those bags.

That front cupcake looked so nice I just had to have it.

The sunroom and my table in the corner where I overlooked the snowfilled garden.

My goodies. I choose the lemon and ginger tea. yummmmm.

And also here I was surrounded by art. I love the second one with the green gloves:

Spend a nice quiet time drinking my tea and talking with the lady who served me my tea. She is a wealth of information. She ensured me to walk through the morning room and reception hall. (HA, like I would skip that part).

The entrance to the two rooms of the canal house that can be hired for receptions or small wedding venues.


With amazing ceilings.

After this I was ready for my last floor. At the top of the stairs before walking down there was a special case:

Walking down the the ground floor there were the bags that were both on display for the exhibit but if you wanted to you could purchase them. Well, even if I wanted to I would never. It is simply the choice between my rent or a bag. They are nice though.

And this beauty would be 3 months of rent.

And then I entered the gift shop. Oh my. Bag galore.

Fun children's books:

Oh and I really really wanted to buy this one. But the price tag stopped me. This bag has my name on it.

And all this time while walking through this wonderful museum I was so self conscious about my own shoulderbag. It is not that bad but is is so plain after what I saw. I made a promise to myself that come summer I will buy myself a fancy bright colored bag.

And this concludes my Artist Date. Did you have fun looking at the photo's? I had a blast taking them. See a bag you liked? Gosh, I saw a few I would proudly wear. What a wonderful museum. I will visit this one again for sure!!