Tag Archives: Spring

My Inspiration for May 2021

31 May

This May I was in the mood for the Pre-Raphaelite art (when am I not in the mood for that?…), but especially the drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti which I feel that I love even more than his paintings. I have also been enjoying the art of Foujita and Miroslav Kraljević, as you have seen from the posts I have written on the topic. I was also reading a book “The Game of Life and How to Play It” by Florence Shinn and here is a very wise quote from it:

“Nothing stands between man and his highest ideals and every desire of his heart, but doubt and fear. When man can “wish without worrying,” every desire will be instantly fulfilled. (…) fear must be erased from the consciousness. It is man’s only enemy – fear of lack, fear of failure, fear of sickness, fear of loss and a feeling of insecurity on some plane. Jesus Christ said: “Why are ye fearful, oh ye of little faith?” (Mat. 8:26) So we can see we must substitute faith for fear, for fear is only inverted faith; it is faith in evil instead of good.”

“Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;

I am also call’d No-more, Too-late, Farewell”

(Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The House of Life)

Ca’ d’Oro, photographed by David Hamilton, Venice, 1989.

Picture found here.

Jane Asher in 1964

Brigitte Bardot, Le Stroboscope, Paris, 1956 – Ph. Willy Rizzo

Picture found here.

Sarajevo, picture found here.

My Inspiration for April 2021

30 Apr

The most important thing of Beauty that I have delighted in this April was Linda Lappin’s freshly published novel “Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne”, you can read more about it in my book review, but I will just say here that it really captivated my imagination and filled my mind with beautiful imagery. It’s really a haunting, beautiful and poignant book. Naturally, descriptions of Jeanne’s clothes made me take a look at the 1910s fashion, especially the Oriental inspired designs by Paul Poirot, then also Diego Rivera’s painting with flowers, Amy Winehouse and Paul Weller singing covers, Talk Talk and The Libertines. I reread Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and found something new and beautiful in it, which I hadn’t seen before. Another thing I must recommend is the video/article (or rather transcript) by the Academy of Ideas called “The Manufacturing of Mass Psychosis – Can sanity return to the insane world?“; very interesting and thought-provoking, it quotes Joost Meerloo’s book “The Rape of the Mind”:

Totalitarianism is man’s escape from the fearful realities of life into the virtual womb of the leaders. The individual’s actions are directed from this womb – from the inner sanctum…man need no longer assume responsibility for his own life. The order and logic of the prenatal world reign. There is peace and silence, the peace of utter submission.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

Open meadows, picture found here.

April 1968. ‘Flirtations come naturally in this romantic new-look that’s date-positive and party-bound.’ Picture found here.

 

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Glowing barrel cacti, Mojave National Preserve, California by Scott Gibson via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/beeUcH

Laura Julie by David Cohen de Lara for ELLE France June 2017, pic found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture by elise.buch on instagram.

Picture by elise.buch on instagram.

Two pics above found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Angkor Wat temple, Angkor, Cambodia, picture found here.

Penelope Tree photographed by David Bailey for Vogue, 1969

Gunilla Lindbland for Vogue, April 1971

Picture found here.

Regitze Christensen by Boo George for Numéro August 2017. Picture found here.

Austin Lite, Watercolor and Ink on Cotton Paper, 2019, 9″x 12″

 

Frank Lepold, Impromptu, 2015

Two pictures above found here.

Picture found here.

1970s Muguet des Bois Perfume Ads: The Fragrance of Love, Romance and Springtime

20 Apr

I recently stumbled upon these perfume ads from the 1970s for the Muguet des bois by Coty perfume and I really like the illustrations! The spirit of romance and spring, the soft and dreamy colour palettes of green, blue and yellow all transport me into some fairy tale land where the sun always shines and flowers always bloom. I don’t even care for the perfume or the ad, these illustrations on their own are just beautiful. The butterflies, the meadows, the dresses, the girls’ soft curly hair, the way the lilies of the valley just flood the scene in the ad from 1979, the carriage and the romantic woods from the ad from 1978, all so enchanting.

The legend of Muguet des bois, April 1975

The romantic fragrance of the Lily of the Woods, 1978

The fragrance of love, romance, and springtime, 1977

Let yourself go. As far as your dreams take you, 1979

1973

 

My Inspiration for March 2021

31 Mar

My biggest inspiration this month (and discovery) was Santoka Taneda; a Japanese haiku writer who led a fascinating life and wrote Zen poetry, and also my old favourite Vincent van Gogh: his art, his letters, and Irving Stone’s novel “Lust for Life”. As I am writing this, bright yellow daffodils are smiling to me from their vase and from my window I see the clouds, the skies, the treetops, I hear the birdsong; they all call me to join them and I shall. Enjoy the beautiful pictures!

“There were so many things we feared. And we shouldn’t have. We should have lived.”

(Ivo Andrić)

“Today my path was wonderful. I wanted to shout out to the mountains, the sea, and the sky. The sound of the waves, the birds, the pure water–I’m grateful for everything. The sun shone brightly and the number of pilgrims increases daily. The memorials, the bridges, the shrines, and the cliffs were so beautiful. My rice was like food from heaven.”

(from Santoka Taneda’s diary)

Beautiful watercolour by  李淡淡 .

Picture by i.Anton ☂.

Quote from “Sputnik Sweetheart”, by Haruki Murakami

Picture found here.

Lucia Heffernan – Field Wishes, 2020

Spring Fashion Inspiration: It’s a Romantic New World…

23 Mar

The idea for the title of this post came from a 1968 fashion picture which you’ll see bellow where two girls are seen wearing floral-print dresses and the words “It’s a romantic new world” are scrawled over it. World in this moment is more a 1984-Brave New World one, but I still like to daydream about more romantic imaginary Arcadian worlds… Enjoy the pictures! 🦋🌷🌻

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Larme Kei fashion magazine scans found here.

March 1977. ‘A feminine bouquet of soft pastels to embroider on a lovely, long white dress.’ Found here.

Found on: louiseebelpandora Instagram

Picture found here.

Van Gogh and Hiroshige: Plum Blossoms and Pink Skies

12 Mar

“Just think of that; isn’t it almost a new religion that these Japanese teach us, who are so simple and live in nature as if they themselves were flowers? And we wouldn’t be able to study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming much happier and more cheerful, and it makes us return to nature, despite our education and our work in a world of convention.”

Hiroshige, Plum Park in Kameido, 1857

This beautiful scene of an orchard in bloom, “Plum Park in Kameido”, is probably the most famous print made by the Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige in 1857. It is the thirtieth print from the collection of 119 ukiyo-e prints “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” which were mostly done by Hiroshige and, after Hiroshige’s death in 1858, the rest of the prints were done by his successor Hiroshige II. Around ten thousand copies were made of each of these prints and after Japan reopened to the West in 1853 these prints travelled even to France where painters such as Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and many, many other painters got their hands on them and used them as inspiration. Vincent van Gogh not only took inspiration from these prints, but also made copies. In many of his letters, Vincent mentions his love for Japan and ukiyo-e prints, here is an example, from a letter to his brother Theo, 23 or 24 September 1888:

If we study Japanese art, then we see a man, undoubtedly wise and a philosopher and intelligent, who spends his time — on what? — studying the distance from the earth to the moon? — no; studying Bismarck’s politics? — no, he studies a single blade of grass.

But this blade of grass leads him to draw all the plants — then the seasons, the broad features of landscapes, finally animals, and then the human figure. He spends his life like that, and life is too short to do everything.

Just think of that; isn’t it almost a new religion that these Japanese teach us, who are so simple and live in nature as if they themselves were flowers?

And we wouldn’t be able to study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming much happier and more cheerful, and it makes us return to nature, despite our education and our work in a world of convention. (…) I envy the Japanese the extreme clarity that everything in their work has. It’s never dull, and never appears to be done too hastily. Their work is as simple as breathing, and they do a figure with a few confident strokes with the same ease as if it was as simple as buttoning your waistcoat. Ah, I must manage to do a figure with a few strokes. That will keep me busy all winter. Once I have that, I’ll be able to do people strolling along the boulevards, the streets, a host of new subjects.

Vincent van Gogh, Flowering Plum Tree (after Hiroshige), 1887

Since we are now in the time of the year when the white and pink blossoms are starting to adorn the sad and bare three branches, these paintings have been on my mind. Van Gogh painted a copy of Hiroshige’s “Plum Park in Kameido” sometime in September or October 1887 whilst he was still in Paris. As you can see, Hiroshige used a very interesting perspective here and the entire plum orchard in bloom is seen through the tree branches of the plum tree in the foreground. The plum tree in the foreground is very cheekily obscuring our view, as if we are gazing at something forbidden, something mysterious on the other side of the fence. In the background, many plum trees in bloom are painted. In Van Gogh’s copy the tree tops of those plum trees in the background are especially dreamy, they look like soft, yellowish clouds, and the gradation of that yellowish-white colour to the red of the sky is quite exquisite. The grass of the orchard is a flat green surface with almost no visible brushstrokes. Van Gogh usually loved layers of colour and rough brushstrokes, but here he was inspired by the flatness of Hiroshige’s print and tried to mimic it.

Vincent van Gogh, View of Arles with Trees in Blossom (Orchard in Bloom with View of Arles), 1889

Vincent van Gogh, The Flowering Orchard, 1888

And to end, here are two more van Gogh’s paintings of orchards in a Japanese style and another excerpt from Vincent’s letter, this time to Emile Bernard, which mentions his love for Japanese art, written in Arles, on Sunday 18 March 1888:

My dear Bernard,

Having promised to write to you, I want to begin by telling you that this part of the world seems to me as beautiful as Japan for the clearness of the atmosphere and the gay colour effects. The stretches of water make patches of a beautiful emerald and a rich blue in the landscapes, as we see it in the Japanese prints. Pale orange sunsets making the fields look blue — glorious yellow suns. (…) Perhaps there’d be a real advantage in emigrating to the south for many artists in love with sunshine and colour. The Japanese may not be making progress in their country, but there’s no doubt that their art is being carried on in France.

Natsume Soseki: Spring makes one drowsy…

26 Apr

One of my all time favourite novels is Natsume Soseki’s “The Three-Cornered World” originally published in 1906. It is an oasis of calmness, wisdom and meditative thoughts on nature and art. The story is told in the first person by the main character, a nameless thirty-year old artist, a poet and a painter, who one day sets out on a journey to the mountains, in search of Beauty and the true meaning of art. I already wrote a book review for this novel and also a post about the Beauty in every day life in relation to the narrator’s thoughts, but today, on this wonderful, warm, green April afternoon, I wanted to share a passage from the first chapter in which the narrator speaks of the beauties of spring, seeing the world from the poet’s point of view, sadness and sensitivity as related to being a poet. I also love the point that detaching yourself from the situation makes you see the true Beauty of it, if you observe your life from a detached point of view, it turns into a poetic experience, I do this all the time and it’s wonderful. And to accompany this spring mood, a few lovely paintings by Renoir.

Scene from Marie Antoinette (2006)

“Spring makes one drowsy. The cat forgets to chase the mouse; humans forget that they owe money. At times the presence of the soul itself is forgotten, and one sinks into a deep haze. But when I behold that distant field of mustard blossom, my eyes spring awake. When I hear the skylark’s voice, my soul grows clear and vivid within me. It is with its whole soul that the skylark sings, not merely with its throat. Surely there’s no expression of the soul’s motion in voice more vivacious and spirited than this. Ah, joy! And to think these thoughts, to taste this joy – this is poetry.

Renoir, Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow, about 1890

“Shelley’s poem about the skylark immediately leaps to my mind. I try reciting it to myself, but I can remember only two or three verses. One of them goes

“We look before and after

And pine for what is not:

Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”

Yes indeed, no matter how joyful the poet may be, he cannot hope to sing his joy as the skylark does, with such passionate wholeheartedness, oblivious to all thought of before and after. In Chinese poetry one often finds suffering expressed as, for instance, “a hundredweight of sorrows,” and similar expressions can be seen in Western poetry too of course, but for the non-poet, the poet’s hundredweight may well be a mere dram or so. It strikes me now that poets are great sufferers; they seem to have more than double the nervous sensitivity of the average person. They may experience exceptional joys, but their sorrows too are boundless. This being the case, it’s worth thinking twice before you become a poet….

Sorrows may be the poet’s unavoidable dark companion, but the spirit with which he listens to the skylark’s song holds not one jot of suffering. At the sight of the mustard blossoms too, the heart simply dances with delight. Likewise with dandelions, or cherry blossoms—but now I suddenly realize that in fact the cherries have disappeared from sight. Yes, here among these mountains, in immediate contact with the phenomena of the natural world, everything I see and hear is intriguing for me. No special suffering can arise from simply being beguiled like this—at worst, surely, it is tired legs and the fact that I can’t eat fine food.”

Renoir, Young Woman with a Japanese Umbrella, 1876

“But why is there no suffering here? Simply because I see this scenery as a picture; I read it as a set of poems. Seeing it thus, as painting or poetry, I have no desire to acquire the land and cultivate it, or to put a railway through it and make a profit. This scenery—scenery that adds nothing to the belly or the pocket—fills the heart with pleasure simply as scenery, and this is surely why there is neither suffering nor anxiety in the experience. This is why the power of nature is precious to us. Nature instantly forges the spirit to a pristine purity and elevates it to the realm of pure poetry. Love may be beautiful, filial piety may be a splendid thing, loyalty and patriotism may all be very fine. But when you yourself are in one of these positions, you find yourself sucked into the maelstrom of the situation’s complex pros and cons—blind to any beauty or fineness, you cannot perceive where the poetry of the situation may lie.

To grasp this, you must put yourself in the disinterested position of an outside observer, who has the leisurely perspective to be able to comprehend it. A play is interesting, a novel is appealing, precisely because you are a third-person observer of the drama. The person whose interest is engaged by a play or novel has left self-interest temporarily behind. For the space of time that he reads or watches, he is himself a poet.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Girls in the Grass Arranging a Bouquet, 1890

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Young Girl in the Garden at Mezy, 1891

John Singer Sargent: Paul Helleu Sketching with His Wife

19 Apr

John Singer Sargent, Paul Helleu Sketching with His Wife, 1889

I discovered this gem of a painting two months ago but I decided to save it for April because plein air paintings with such lush greenness just scream April and springtime to me. The man with a straw hat, long sharp nose and a beard is the French Post-Impressionist painter Paul César Helleu. His canvas sits in the grass, framed by noisy blades of grass. The long thin fingers of his right hand are not so dissimilar to the brushes he is holding in his left arm, and if you look at it closely, you will see that the brush is nothing more than a stroke of paint, confident and carefree. Whatever he is painting, and it must be the nature that is in front of him, is it for sure keeping him completely absorbed. Behind him, in the shadow of this great artist, is a seemingly disinterested auburn haired woman with greyish complexion; that is Helleu’s wife Alice Guérin.

The couple met in 1884 when Helleu was commissioned to paint a portrait of this graceful young lady with long red hair. They quickly fell in love and married two years later, on 28 July 1886 when she was sixteen years old and he was twenty-six. She was his favourite model, but in this painting painted by Helleu’s life-long friend John Singer Sargent, she is sitting wistfully in the grass behind him; lost in daydreams, listening to birds or just following a butterfly in its flight with her eyes. He seems so stern and so absorbed in his work, I wonder: was she bored just sitting there useless, like a captive bird, dressed in an almost matching grey jacket to that of her beloved husband? Or did she enjoy being his passive companion? Or perhaps he just seems serious, but we don’t see the jokes he might have cracked or smiles he might have sent to her in times of  little painting breaks. One thing I do know for sure: the grass in this painting is something out of this world! In so many different shades of green, from the proper grass green to being and brown tones… it is a joy to soak my eyes in this greenness! Sensuality of nature comes through in these colours. Every blade of grass has a unique life of its own. This isn’t some neat, tamed lawn, no, this is a sweetly wild grass that grows on its own accord, without man’s laws.

Bellow you can see a similar painting that John Singer Sargent painted four years before the Helleu one, and in this painting it’s the famous Impressionist Claude Monet who is shown painting plein air on the edge of the wood. Sargent sort of strikes me as a voyeur of a sort… I know that they knew they were being painted but still, it seems that Sargent was quick to capture them in their pursuit.

John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of the Wood, 1885

Maurice Prendergast: Mothers and Children in the Park

13 Apr

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

(William Morris)

Maurice Prendergast, Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook: Mothers and Children in the Park, watercolor over pencil, 1895-97

This is not the first and probably not the last post I wrote about Maurice Prendergast. I already wrote about his dazzling and vibrant watercolour beach scenes and about his dreamy and radiant La Belle Epoque portrait of the Lady with a Red Sash. Today, let us take a look at this beautiful watercolour “Mothers and Children in the Park” which was painted around 1895-97, right after his return from Paris. It’s part of Prendergast’s “Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook”.

Maurice Prendergast studied in Paris from 1891 to 1895 at the Académie Colarossi (Modigliani’s lover and muse Jeanne Hébuterne also studied at this academy, though many years later) and Académie Julian. In Paris he met Aubrey Beardsley, Walter Sickert, Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard with whom he shared artistic ideas and these friendships inspired him to experiment with compositions and formats of his paintings. Along with these progressive artistic ideas of Pointilism, Japonism and rudiments of Art Nouveau (through Aubrey Beardsley’s art), Prendergast was naturally introduced to the wonders of Impressionism and the theme of this watercolour is very Impressionistic: a carefree, lazy, sunny day in the park. The world “impression” was originally used pejoratively to describe a sketchy, carefree style which differed greatly from the precise, no-brushstroke-seen style of the Academic art. In that sense, this lovely watercolour is a true “impression” of a sunny, warm, radiant afternoon in a park. A moment of quiet joy captured in a dazzling harmony of pinks, greens and yellows. Everything looks trembling and alive and colours fully contribute to this mood.

Bellow I have included an array of details of this watercolour and these details really show the true beauty of this artwork. You can see the pencil appearing under the watercolour, the soft transitions and mingling of the watercolour. Something about two different shades of watercolour mingling together in a kiss and creating another shade gives me such a thrill. Such radiance and vivacity! A watercolour “impression” of such a simple, everyday motif as is a day in the park gives an even greater immediacy and liveliness to the motif than the usual oil on canvas that the Impressionist were painting. I especially love the detail of the little girl in pink dress with puffed sleeves and wheat-coloured hair. Her lovely oval face is but a few strokes of pencil and dashes of blue for eyes, so simple and effortless, yet so lovely.

My Inspiration for May 2019

31 May

Month of May being such a romantic and flowery time of the year my imagination took me to the world of Gothic novels, castles with their dungeons and towers, white Regency gowns and handsome Byronic heroes, flower gardens, brides, painting of girls in white having their first communion, cozy cottages, Chateau de Chillon and the Romantics who visited it… Still very much captivated by the film “Taxi Driver” (1976) and Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights which I am thinking about reading again. I started reading a book “The Madwoman in the Attic” and I loved all the chapters that I have read so far, but in particular I enjoyed the chapter about Emily Dickinson and I found the ideas from her poetry and letters highly relatable. I definitely recommend the book!

Also, these lines from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” cannot seem to leave my head:

“I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.”

My discoveries this month were one pretty little poem by Keats called “Where be ye going, you Devon maid?”, Milan Kundera’s short story collection “Laughable Loves”, Anais Nin’s dreamy stream of conscience novel “The Children of the Albatross” which I enjoyed but I still think her Journal of Love is way more interesting, I started reading H.D. Lawrence’s novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and I find it interesting, but not as much as I had hoped. beautiful melodies by Fauré such as Dolly’s Garden and Élegié, Paul Weller’s song “Brand New Start” and his cover of the song “Wishing on a Star”.

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”

(Wuthering Heights)

Picture found here.

Photo by Stefany Alves.