Archive for March 2010

Of Bonnets and Spring Hats   Leave a comment

Today’s wet and rather dreary weather is tempered with a good old-fashioned cup of tea.  In my particular case,  since I’m still sporting some battle scars from my recent digestive free fall,  I’m relying on some newly purchased chamomile  and lavender tea to soothe my soul.  Drinking herbs and flowers sounds like a good alternative right about now, since I’m certainly not seeing any of them out in the garden yet!

At any rate, as mentioned yesterday, today’s quest was to seek out some visual curiosities in the world of women’s headwear, i.e. hats.  Hats that somehow covered or enhanced all those hair extravaganzas I came upon in yesterday’s visual trip down memory lane….not my memory lane of course, but someone about a hundred years older than myself.  The little numbers below are from a slightly later date than the hairstyles previously mentioned, but as hair was still fairly complicated in the 1880’s and 1890’s, I think they will qualify.  However….they only get bigger and better after these….

Having new articles of clothing at Easter is a custom that shows up in documents from as far back as the late 16th century.  Wearing a new outfit for this important time of year symbolized a renewal, the beginning of a new year and spiritual renewal as well.  The wearing of flowers also represented Spring and the rebirth of the year, so it seems natural that flowers and bonnets would find a common home…in this case, on a lady’s head!

In fact, there is early documentation that it was even considered ill luck not to have some new clothing at Easter….so of course any self respecting lady could not possibly go without at least a small article of something new!  So why not a wonderful and gregarious (if hats can be called gregarious, which I think they can) hat!  And why not just segue right into June with the same theme!  Why..but of course mes amis!  Voila!  June 1898!

Frankly, I don’t blame the ladies at all.  I think that I would have been one of the wearers of those hats, and after seeing all the wonderful vintage millinery materials still out there on Etsy sites and the like, I might even be tempted to try to construct a hat at some point in my life.  Maybe it runs in the blood.  My father told me that we had milliners in our family a few generations ago.  Perhaps they were constructing some of these very designs.  Food for thought while I take another sip of tea….

And leave you with some  Easter postcard images….and yes indeed, a couple of Easter hats have sneaked their way in too!

Long live hats!  Even if no one wears them any more!  They still inspire me!

And many thanks to www.costumes.org for some of the neat hat images!

How’d She ‘Do That?? Interesting Hair of a Past Age   Leave a comment

Well I’m sorry to report that my blogging was temporarily snuffed out due to an unexpected (it’s Spring for goodness sakes, I thought these things were supposed to be gone!) bout with a particularly nasty germ that hijacked my digestive system over the past few days….the kind that whips you around like a giant dog shaking his toy…and you are the toy!

Needless to say, when I wasn’t lying on the bed in a stupor, I had time to peruse some interesting images from my own collection and that of others.  Victorian hairdos seemed to hold a fascination, not only for the incredible amount of hair needed to create such ‘dos, but also the extreme complexity of some of them.

I think I have the hair, but I suspect I lack the manual dexterity for most of these creations. I would have needed some kind of helper to make me look presentable!  Look at these, all from an 1868 issue of Peterson’s Magazine…

Now we get a little more complex….

My fingers are getting tired….calling for helper….!

HELP!!…

All images above come from Public Domain art, kindly scanned by karenswhimsy.com, a great site if you love old images and also need a quick smile in your day.  My quick research into hair styles of the day indicates that these multitudes of curls, braids, etc. were oftentimes partly made up of small hairpieces…and since AquaNet hairspray was not even a twinkle in its inventor’s eye, if not hairpieces, the curls were held in place with…..grease or lard….oh DEAR!

Tomorrow I think I’ll check out hats….something to cover all that hair!

Ahhhhh….the Weekend!   Leave a comment

Time to settle in with a cup of coffee and a few of my favorite publications.  Nothing like a good dose of Spring eye candy to stimulate the imagination. …whether it be an Easter crafts article or pages packed with beautiful images of the season at hand.  I’ve always been a magazine junkie due to the inherently visual nature of the format.  Some people love to cook and eat…..for me, images are my food!

The weekend is also the time to light out into the woods to see what progress has been made in nature’s attempt to reawaken from winter slumber.  At the edge of a small meadow at the far end of our property I happened upon something I had not realized existed….perhaps because I may have actually crossed the property line and might actually have been trespassing on a neighbor’s property….but we won’t talk about that…it was really close to being in my yard, so I’m claiming it!  So there!

Anyway, it was a clump of Snowdrops…one of the very earliest blooming flowers, so named because it often shows up in late winter, its petals rising above the snow.  This particular clump must have been the more intelligent variety, waiting until all the snow had melted!  They were a pleasure to see.

What were these little guys doing in such an odd location?  I surely don’t know, but I’m glad I came upon them.

In the Victorian times flowers were very important in conveying messages and emotions.  Each flower had a meaning associated with it.  The Snowdrop stood for consolation or hope…which may be why it appears on many Victorian Easter cards.  Here are a few examples from my own collection..I find them delightful, almost like a trip back through time…

May you enjoy your weekend and the blessings of nature.

Posted March 22, 2010 by freshairfour in Nature, Vintage/Antiques

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A Little Serendipity on a Spring Afternoon   Leave a comment

Webster’s defines the word serendipity as “the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for”.

Much in need of some sunshine and color, I set out this afternoon on a short jaunt around the back yard to see what I could come across that gave evidence that the long winter was at last vanquished.  As my shoes sank slightly with each step on the ground that was still drying out from the snow’s last runoff, I searched for any sign of green…anything poking its head through layers of last Fall’s leaves….clinging to a rock….whatever I could find on this mid-March day.  Ahh!  I spied a crocus, that welcome harbinger of Spring early bloomers.  As I leaned down to take a shot, serendipity arrived on wings….bumblebee wings…..and I took full advantage of it.

My next stop was over to an old garden border where I thought I had seen evidence of another crocus a few days ago.  Sure enough, there it was….and fully opened at that. As I pressed the camera shutter a couple of times to capture the beauty of the small flower, I finally noticed that the lovely bloom had a very small visitor who had been sitting on one of the petals the whole time I was shooting!  Serendipity?  I think so!  Take a look…If you know how small a crocus is, you’ll know how small the visitor is too!

The rest of my walk yielded no more winged creatures in my shots, but plenty of evidence that Spring is indeed springing.  I vowed from now on to be better at recognizing serendipity when it was staring me in the face!

Here’s hoping you will take a moment to enjoy all the smalls that nature provides in this wonderful season of renewal….

………renewal and rebirth…

Wonderful Spring!

Posted March 20, 2010 by freshairfour in Nature, Spring

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Light Studies- Part Two   Leave a comment

This time around, that same apple was joined by a lime and two lemons.  I was interested in looking at the effect of light passing through transparent segments of fruit, and also wanted to see how the glass bowl would reflect images, colors, etc.  Here are a few of the results….

For the shot below, I took a stab at photographing the fruit from a vantage point underneath the bowl and looking through the glass itself.  If you’re trying to look at something in a new way, and perhaps learn something new in the process, it never hurts to get experimental with vantage points.  This could apply to a lot of things in life, couldn’t it?!  Anyway, here’s the outcome….I was pleased with the way the edge of the bowl reflected the actual  image of the cut lemon.  Do you see it?  By the way, I don’t normally crop my photos after I take them….usually just crop it in my mind before taking the shot.  I like the “what you see is what you get” philosophy.  Especially when I’m just doing light studies like these.

For the shot below I just wanted to zero in on the fruit itself to enjoy how the different shapes worked together. I rather like the way the light plays off of that straight cut I made in the lemon.

Are you getting a little sick of looking at fruit?  Well rest easy, here’s today’s parting shot….

Enjoy your day and the smalls you come across in your own daily activity!

Posted March 16, 2010 by freshairfour in Art, Light Studies

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Rediscovering Some Thomas Gainsborough   Leave a comment

I’ve been dipping into a book recently about the artist Thomas Gainsborough.  At the time I studied painting at school, most of the emphasis was placed on studying modern or contemporary work.  Classical painting was not particularly in fashion and it seemed more time was spent studying late 19th and 20th century masters…in particular the 20th century masters.   Nowadays classical painting is making a comeback and  I see a renewed interest in investigating artists of colonial times and earlier periods.

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1728) was a British portrait and landscape painter whom I had always associated only with his painting titled The Blue Boy, but who in fact produced many more sensitive and intriguing works throughout the 18th century.  I particularly like the naturalistic portrayal of  Henrietta Vernon, Countess of Grosvenor….seen below.  Although women of the time often powdered their hair or wore wigs, she is shown with neither. Her gaze imparts intelligence and composure.

Although an unfinished sketch, I especially enjoy the direct gaze of the artist’s daughters in the work below, The Painter’s Daughters with a Cat, which is part of the collection of the National Gallery in London.  There is an energy about the piece that I find appealing as well.

The portrait below, of Mary, Countess Howe, shows precision and skill in the rendering of her garments and in conveying a sense of strength in the face of the subject as well.  She is shown out for a walk, striking a pose similar to that shown in works by Van Dyck and other artists.

These are just a few examples of Gainsborough’s work that I admire.  His work, even though it was executed over 200 years ago, still retains an immediacy about it which gives life to the subject matter and enables the viewer to connect with the gaze of a person living in the eighteenth century.  At times I feel as if I am seeing a contemporary person, but one who is just dressed in clothing of another time.

Looking at Light….Sunlight..not Bud Light!   Leave a comment

I’ll be starting some new still life paintings soon and figured it would be a good idea to study the light in various areas of the house to see where I want to place my setup.

It’s always advantageous to use as much natural light as possible, although I may experiment with low light areas as well.  When I find the right area and the right time of the day that gives the effect I am striving for, I know I’ve found my spot…at least for this next painting.

In the meantime, I’m grabbing fruit here and there, accompanied by various objects at hand, and seeing what I capture in a digital image that may or may not be a springboard for ideas for the set up.  I’ll be doing a lot of this sort of thing.  Here are two images taken around 3pm, the first one has light from a south-west exposure….

The second shot shows light from a south-eastern facing window…a slight difference in vibrancy and mood…

As I said, I’ll be playing around a lot with this sort of thing.  It’s fun and you can learn a lot about how to best portray shape through light and shadow.  And if you’re hungry…you can always eat the apple!

Posted March 15, 2010 by freshairfour in Art, Light Studies

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