Adventures In Watercolor 3

So here is the next batch of my watercolors. After tackling flowers and still life, we were on to landscapes, which I prefer, because it doesn’t require drawing precise shapes. We started with monochromatic landscapes first:

Then we moved on to full color:

Stay tuned, because it’s our “graduation ceremony” this weekend and I’ll get to pick up my final piece to show you guys. And I’ve been painting regularly (now that school has started again, I try to complete one painting per week) so there will be more to come!

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SIA Inspiration: Jackson Pollock

Happy Labor Day to my US readers! We’re having a holiday weekend here as well, it was our Independence Day on Sunday, so we get Monday off too. Anyway, it’s my turn to host SIA, and here is my pick:

This is “Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)” by Jackson Pollock. I picked it because it’s the end of summer and I know we’re all looking forward to the fall (even though in my case it won’t come for at least another 2 months and won’t stay for longer than 2 weeks). Plus, one of the books I read last month, “The Nature Fix“, mentions that these “drip paintings” are so pleasing to look at because they contain fractal patterns similar to those found in nature (scientists even use fractal analysis to authenticate Pollockesque paintings!) I have to admit, I’ve always thought that Pollock’s paintings are a mess, but apparently, there is a system to their chaos.

This is going to be a fun one – the color scheme is all neutral, but I’m interested to see how you guys will interpret the wild patterns of the paint splatters. Don’t forget to send me your outfits by next Tuesday, September 11th. Have fun!


Flower Embroidery

I just got this new top and pants (along with the dress I wore for SIA, and the same-fabric top) in an end-of-summer sale. I saw them on the mannequin together and decided to get both. As a rule, I try to avoid copying exactly the store’s lookbook or catalogue when styling my outfits – I don’t know why, I guess I’m influenced by Tom and Lorenzo’s aversion to “copying the runway” – but these two go so well with each other that I didn’t mind.

P/S: Don’t let the sun in this set of photos fool you, it’s actually been raining non-stop here for the last three days – these were taken last week.


Book Reviews: August 2018

It’s a good month of reading – 6 books, and they’re all more or less enjoyable, with one exception. Here goes:

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters:

I only know Sarah Waters from the adaptations of her works (Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch, I haven’t watched Affinity), but I’ve never actually read her novels before. So when I came across this in the used bookstore and remembered seeing a trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation, I decided to pick it up. It takes place post-WWII and revolves around a country doctor whose life becomes entangled with an aristocratic family living in a crumbling mansion as they are plagued by increasingly strange and sinister incidents. It’s a ghost story in the vein of Henry James and Shirley Jackson, in that the supernatural elements are very subtle, and you have to wonder if they are really supernatural or merely psychological. It can be frustratingly slow at times and don’t expect a tidy explanation at the end, but Waters is so good at creating a creepy and oppressive atmosphere that I had to stop reading it before bed. 4.5/5

Spook by Mary Roach:

After a ghost story, it seems natural that I would read about the scientific studies of ghosts and the afterlife. I’ve quite enjoyed Mary Roach’s other books (Stiff and Packing for Mars), and this one, while not as informative as those two, is still very entertaining. And no, she doesn’t come up with a tidy explanation for ghosts either, but it’s fun to read anyway. 4/5

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton:

I picked this up because of the pretty cover. And also because it’s a fictional account of the life of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, an eccentric 17th-century writer, which sounds right up my alley. The blurb says it’s “not a historical novel but a modern novel set in the past”, so I didn’t expect a bildungsroman, but I did expect the normal stuff – you know, plot, character developments, details about life in 17th England and Europe. What I got instead is a rambling series of prose, like the diary entries of someone with ADHD, written in an overwrought, clumsy attempt at being poetic. There is no character development; the main character comes off vain, silly, and delusional, not brilliant and misunderstood like the book tries to make her out to be. Oh and, it switches POV halfway through (the first half is written in first person, the second half in third person). Why? No reason. The real Margaret Cavendish deserves so much better than this drivel. The only good thing I can say about it is that it’s short, so I didn’t waste too much time reading it. 1/5

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes:

With a title like this, I was expecting something in the vein of “What We Do in the Shadows” or at least “The Reformed Vampire Support Group“, something humorous that details the mundane, everyday struggle of a vampire and subverts all the usual vampire tropes. It turns out to be a series of very standard adventures with all the usual – werewolves, zombies, mages, etc. Sure, there are things like a were-pony or an ancient dragon masquerading as a 7-year-old boy, but it’s nowhere near as clever as I hoped. Also, the writing is super expository. It is trying to be personal, like Fred is addressing the reader, but it just ends up flat. It’s not terrible, actually, just disappointing. 2/5

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly:

This has a typical fantasy premise: a boy in WWII-England, mourning the death of his mother and resenting the presence of his new stepmom and his half-brother, ends up in a world that contain elements of his favorite fairy tales, but they have been twisted into something dark and dangerous (in fact, I once wrote a screenplay with a very similar premise). Although the main character is a kid, it’s not a YA book by any means – it goes to some pretty dark places. And that’s also my problem with it. The story is good and the world is interesting, but it’s just so grim. I don’t mind dark fairy tales; heck, I live for dark fairy tales (especially Neil Gaiman’s), but in those, there is still a sense of magic and wonderment. Here, aside from some communist dwarves who are oppressed by Snow White, everything is so somber and heavy all the time. 4/5

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams:

You may have known that nature is good for you, but have you ever wondered why? Well, this book goes into all the scientific research behind the restorative power of nature and how it is being used to improve our life in general, from “forest bathing” in Japan to bushcrafting (sort of like survival skills, like making fire and shelter, but less about the survival and more about interacting with nature) in Scotland, and also how much time you need to spend in nature to feel its positive effects (5 hours/month, according to the Finns). I’ve always loved being in nature, but I have to admit, I don’t go outside as much as I should, so this book has made me a lot more mindful of that. 4/5

What did you guys read? Let me know in the comments and make sure to check out my friend Mike’s book reviews here.


Cyanotype

Here is my outfit for SIA, inspired by Anna Atkins‘ cyanotype photographs. Since the print of the dress mimics the cyanotypes so perfectly, I kept the rest of the outfit simple. And yes, this dress is made of the same fabric as my top from last Friday’s post. I like it so much that when I saw the top and the dress on sale, I had to get them both.

The dress is a little shorter than I like (I prefer midi-length, or at least below the knees), but for a summer dress, it’s great. Plus, pockets! My only problem is how to style it differently each time I wear it. The dress is so focus-pulling already that a change of shoes would not make much of a difference. I guess I’ll have to wait until the fall to try layering it.

Don’t forget to stop by Jen’s blog on Wednesday to see other looks inspired by these amazing photographs!


Last Of Summer Outfits

School has officially started this week, so this is the last of my summer outfits before we’re back to the work attire. Usually I’m glad when summer is over, but this summer hasn’t been too bad – mostly thanks to my watercolor class, and I’ve also been excercising more regularly with the help of Blogilates (it’s great for a couch potato like me, because it gives you a monthly calendar with workout videos for each day, which you can just follow along without having to think what exercise you’re going to do). I have more energy, so the days are more fun and productive. Plus, work is going to be extra busy this year. One of my classes is graduating, and I’m going to have to look over their theses… So yeah, I’m not looking forward to going back to work.

P/S: I just realize this outfit would be great for this week’s SIA, but I already have another outfit planned. Just wait and see 😉


Adventures In Watercolor 2

In the second week of class, we moved on to still life and flowers from real life. I was still struggling a bit with the shapes and how to create light/shadow, but I did improve slightly.


My painting and the real-life setup, for comparison

We also tried our hands at portraits – humans or animals (again, by copying from existing paintings or photos.) I’m completely hopeless when it comes to drawing people, so I chose a rooster. He turned out… OK-ish, I guess? I can’t get the face and the eyes right, so it looks like he’s in shock 😛