Blog: Inspiration

Inspired by: Amsterdam

A couple weeks ago my husband and I spent a couple days in Amsterdam. Amsterdam will always hold a special place in my heart, because that is the city my husband and I actually got together :)

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment which was amazing and in a house from the 15hundreds – the top photo is the view out of the bedroom window – pretty cool

Of course we went straight to a cheese store ..well we had to do some grocery shopping and that includes getting good cheese …Oh man, heaven!

We also took a little Canal tour – for the hundreds time- but it never gets old. Look at those pretty houseboats

and houses

and bridge corners

and did I say houses?

 

It was a bit of a gloomy day but still nice enough for the tour

I already started painting some of the views – just so beautiful!

We also walked a lot and that requires some refreshment and people watching at one of our favorite bars for that .

And everything looks even prettier when it gets dark

I fell in Love with the houses below while waiting for the tram close to the Rijksmuseum.

All the details- swoon.

And we went back to the one windmill in Amsterdam – which houses the Brewery I’TIJ’ which we have been visiting for 20 years and has changed and hasn’t :)

we spent a lovely afternoon there with drinks, cheese with celery salt etc. and some friends. It was a really good short trip. I do miss the possibility of going to a different country by train or plane in just a couple hours, so I am glad we were able to sneak this little trip in when taking care of some matters in Germany :)

 

Comments (2)

  • Jean Goza

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    Loved the photos. Amsterdam has been on my bucket list for awhile. I agree about travel in Europe. I love the ability to hop on a train or plane and be in another country so quickly. Very cool!

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Jean – you would love it or sure! Amsterdam is awesome!

      Reply

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Inspired by Paducah, Kentucky

A couple weeks ago I taught some workshops in Paducah Kentucky, which was so much fun – but on top of it I also loved how inspirational this town is.

Well …first of all- the tiny airport made me smile …

when the one and only and tiny baggage belt started ringing an alarm indicating the baggage comes out I snorted and laughed out loud ….

I loved Kristin’s gorgeous planters with succulent outside the studio

tiny typewriter platers, what is not to love about it?

Wooden Sculpture – amazing!

Also all around the store were differently painted hydrants – it was fun to look out for them.

Aren’t those cool?

At the same time I was there there happened to be a Art and Music Festival and of course, there were tons of BBQ stands- this one proudly displayed all the trophies they won. And yes…I ate BBQ – lots of BBQ LOL

I loved those goggly eyes in a bush

But my favorite part of Paducah def. were all the beautiful and unique old houses. So gorgeous – look at the brickbuilding on top – that one was abandoned and had a secret garden in the back

 

Look at this one – so so so beautiful

This building looked like a little castle

and I love the porch and the windows on this one.

And I totally lost my heart on this cute litte Dutch Colonial …look at the cute heart shutter boards – swoon!

Cannot wait to sketch  more houses :) Hope you enjoyed the little stroll through Paducah !

Comments (4)

  • Kristin Williams

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    Loved seeing Paducah through your eyes! Come back, soon! xoxoxo K

    Reply

  • Kathy

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    Love the photos capturing the charm of Paducah.

    Reply

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Currently Digging – May 2018 AIT

Once in a while I thought I would share with you some nifty finds – like an Artist who’s work caught my eye…, some Inspiration or the what, when and where that caught my eye and got my creative juices flowing, and Tools & Techniques I am currently digging like a new way to use a material or an application that I’m taking away. Hope you enjoy this.

Here we go for this month:

I am a huge fan of Cy Twombly and not only did I see some amazing paintings of his just recently, I was also at the Gagosian Gallery with Kim and another friend to see a collection of his drawings. No photos allowed there though – the following is from MoMA.

His vivid colors, scratching, dripping, writing – fascinating and so tactile. I especially loved his work in handmade books also shown at the gallery. Makes me want to grab my art journal and get loose :)

I have two words for you…Babylon Berlin

It is a German TV Series- which you can watch on Netflix which plays 1929 in Berlin during the Weimarer Republic. It is not for the faint hard – nor for someone who might have a problem with explicit pictures or language …

It is amazing! Not only is the criminal story great and the interweaving of historic facts and fiction, but the visual inspiration is so GOOD! Alone all the different scenes in rooms with the most amazing wallpaper, the clothing, the pattern , the colors. I could not stop watching and I def. would love to go back and now that I know how the story goes ;) I would love to look at some of the decoration again. I hope the English dubbed version is ok – I know that is sometimes a problem with those shows and I personally could not stand it …but then…LOL- lucky for me once …I didn’t have to ;)

Ok….ready? You gonna laugh but I am totally digging USING Washi paper and Washi tape.

Before I was just COLLECTING it but now that I am off to reorganize my studio once again and am therefore using tons of stuff …I am actually totally hooked using it ;)

Since I have been hoarding it for such a long time and also because the adhesive is not the best anyway – I apply some gel medium under the tape and paper and over it. Now …if you are a collector of Washi tape and paper …hopefully I made you wanna use it as well with this post ;)

See you soon again with some new nifty finds that I am currently digging !

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Inspired by Japanese Manholes

As many people I have an obsession with beautiful manholes … and so Japan did not disappoint, in fact …there were some of the most beautiful manholes I have ever seen and I thought I show just a couple

Almost every neighborhood has different manholes – depending also on what the neighborhood is known for.

this one was a “simple” one in Tokyo – sooo gorgeous!

OK- I am cheating LOL- I am sneaking in some pavement plates- because …excuse me …they are beautiful

This one is in Kyoto – I love the fans – and directions

And of course the most beautiful which I shared already – in Nara …I loved how colorful those little manholes and pavement covers were

No idea what this little Dude is …I assume a turtle …but mmhhhh – fun though!

And cherry blossom at Ueno Park.

Just for the Manholes I would go back – LOL. Which one of the selection here is your favorite?

Comments (4)

  • stephanie

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    the flower. That is SO cool that they make the covers into art.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      yeah -they are taking it a notch further with the manholes :)

      Reply

  • Sue Clarke

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    Cherry Blossom is my fav but they are all pretty cool.

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    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      agreed – now I want to go back and take more pix of manholes- LOL

      Reply

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Inspired By: Japanese Food

For some it might sound weird to be inspired by food- but well … I am ..colors, smells, forms, presentation  and …let’s face it, it is easier to create art with a filled stomach as well. So here are some food related impressions from Japan :)

Daiwa Sushi at the Tsukiji fish market was the best sushi I have ever had totally worth the 45 minute wait. The tuna was the most intense red tuna …and a beautiful one for sure I have ever seen and eating Sushi at 7am in the morning was def. differently and set for a good mood :)

Imagine walking around and smelling fresh baked dough and seeing how Ningyo-yaki are being made. Each cookie made by the man with the mold revealed later on a beautiful design on the outside of the waffle representing the Seven Gods of Fortune and the inside sweet red bean taste was delicious. The cookies in the front are also tasty but different.

Ramen – oh man – we ate sooooo much Ramen – and I loved it. It isn’t your student food in a cup if that is what you have in mind – instead you get fresh veggies and meat if you wish in a wonderful Japanese stock with homemade noodles. The picture above shows one of the fun Ramen Counter Booth Seating Charts – crazy fun.

This is probably the most beautiful ice cream I have ever eaten! It was Matcha (green tea) ice cream and the waffle showing the messenger fox with a key were a great treat at one of the temples.

Pickled vegetables ….I loved the signs and the wooden buckets they were stored in at a market

And yes …I was intrigued – since most we had no idea what it was

But it was pretty like the one above ….

Yakitori- grilled chicken with veggies …it was not only amazingly tasteful but the presentation was beautiful too.

And of course all the different labels of those Sake bottles from a Sake tasting intrigued me. See the tag with the string on one of the bottles- what a cool label.

And of course I loved the beer label as well – which btw- American Craft Beer always has some amazing artsy labels- I need to do a blog post about that too :)

We stayed one night at a tradition Ryokan with traditional food served in the room and we changed into home Kimonos – it was fun and very comfy!

The food served there was so pretty and the all the little dishes were just insane.

Often we had no idea what we ate and to be honest some of the food was even for us foodies a tiny bit challenging but it was an experience I wouldn’t wanna miss.

 

The fish up top was delicious and I just was reminded of Marsha Valk’s wonderful video at Creative JumpStart where she showed a gorgeous project based on a Picasso inspired fish dish.

Here is the breakfast with some things staring back at me- LOL.

As I wrote earlier on my blog post about Tokyo I took a cooking class and wow- was that awesome! We went to the market beforehand and smelling, seeing, using different fresh ingredients was just awesome. Here you see the our instructor Yukari crushing black sesame seeds with a wooden Japanese pestle in a porcelain mortar which has grooves on the side. Needless to say that I had to hunt down this pestle and mortar and bring it back home – LOL

And then look at the table setting -it is a feast for the eye – and it makes you just happy to look at this. In the middle you see a Chirashi Sushi which I would describe as a Sushi Salad. DELICIOUS

Here is our cooking class group with two more from the States, one women from Singapore and one from Finland- so much fun. If you are in Tokyo take a class with Yukari-she is AMAZING!

Home made udon noodles …and I mean like right in front of me made udon noodles with vegetable tempura. Oh man – it was one of the best meals EVER. I am still dreaming of those Udon Noodles and my mouth is watering while I am writing this.

Well worth the hour wait in line alone (my husband was at a conference) – in fact – good food is a big thing in Japan and you just get a bit more patient (although living in the NYC metropolitan area waiting in line at a restaurant is not unusual for me)  and usually you get more than rewarded once you are inside. BTW- you get your menu and order while waiting and you pretty much get your food a minute after you sat down.

And yes –this is a pizza. Now I am picky as hell when it comes to pizza since I am a real half Italian but boy ….this was hands down one of the best Pizzas I have ever eaten …and it was in Tokyo at Pizza Studio Tamaki. It was a pretty crazy experience.

I hope you enjoyed this kind of different inspirational post ;) Are you hungry yet?

Comments (4)

  • JoAnn

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    Wow – love your photos and the food looks amazing. Such an amazing trip🌿

    Reply

  • Bonniemon

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    I loved your tale of eating in Japan! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Reply

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Inspired By: Nara, Japan

Nara was one of the super highlights of an already amazing trip! Nara was the capitol of Japan from 710 to 794 and it’s Buddhist Monuments are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We started off with walking around the Yoshikien Garden and I really loved the moss garden! So beautiful! The only weird thing about the garden was, that it had a sign that sketching wasn’t allowed. Mhhh – I was a good girl and left the sketchbook in but it did make me wonder.

While walking through the Nara Park you will encounter a ton of deers – who like to be fed. Deer are able to roam freely and are believed to be sacred messengers of the Shinto gods that inhabit the shrine and surrounding mountainous terrain. Some of the deer have learned to bow in order to receive a snack and some will butt you if you nibble on a cookie without sharing.

The Tōdai-ji Great Buddha Hall is the the world’s largest wooden building. It is STUNNING. This picture cannot do it justice- it is just breathtakingly beautiful and massive!

And while we were still catching our breath looking at the stunning doors and woodwork outside, we stepped in and gasped – again the pictures don’t do this justice. The Great Buddha statue in bronze is about 15 m/49ft tall .

It was originally cast in 752 but typhoons and earthquakes destroyed parts of it over the centuries and so some parts have been recasted.

Kokuzo-Bosatsu Statue but also look at the inside wood construction of the building !

One hell of a staircase ….

One of the wooden Nio Guardians who protect Buddha, carved in 1203. Komoku-ten is holding a writing brush and scroll.

I loved this gigantic butterfly a the lotus vase. We indulged in some delicious udon noodles and continued our walk.

Next we visited the Nigatsudo temple. The Nigatsudo is best known for Omizutori, a fire and water ceremony on March 12 every year, where huge flaming torches are held out from the temple balcony. The next day – the day we were actually there, sacred water is drawn from a well under the temple, which is said to have healing properties. The ceremony has been held here without a break since the temple’s founding in 752. Since it is a wooden structure it is a miracle that it still exists – The smell of the fire ceremony the night before was still lingering everywhere.

The temple tea room – I couldn’t stay in the room unfortunately because the burned smoke still in the building made me cough madly.

A beautiful view from the temple terrace while inside you heard monks chants. Beautiful and peaceful.

I loved all the little details

An old wooden plaque.

And then we had some Matcha tea sitting outside and I think I haven’t been as relaxed as in that moment for a long long time.

I guess my husband is trying to figure out where the ground is of the tea pot ;)

OK – guys, I have to put this photo in there…CUTEST deer EVAAAAAHHHH. Every time I need a cute-dose now I am pulling up this photo -I get all squeaky when I look at it. I contained myself when I saw it in person right next to me so I wouldn’t scare it off – but please- tell me …isn’t it the cutest deer you have ever seen?

Next we went to to the Kasuga Grand Shrine. Bronze lanterns are hung everywhere.

And tons of stone lanterns lead the way to it.

Twice a year all those lanterns get lit at once – I can only imagine how magic this must look- but it was magic already just to walk around the park and temple, with deers roaming around. Unreal ! We had a second tea break, saw a turtle walking by (no kidding!) and had a yummy piece of persimmon cake. There are so many pictures of just that one day….I tried to keep it on a what I hope manageable amount LOL. But one more ;)

Here is a manhole in Nara – most beautiful manhole I have ever seen. I will show you a couple from the trip in an upcoming post but this one deserves to be shown twice ;) Hope you are inspired by Nara – more from my Japan trip to come soon.

Comments (16)

  • Catherine

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    Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  • Anna

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    I feel so lucky to see your photos and read your story.
    Thank you!

    Reply

  • Joanne Howard

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    Wow! What a trip! I could look at your pictures all day. It must have been so amazing just to wander around.

    The deer is the cutest thing I have ever seen! I don’t know how you contained yourself.

    Thank you for taking us along. I look forward to more pictures of your trip!

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      LOL- I know I wanted to pack the deer into my pocket. Thank you for coming along Joanne!

      Reply

  • Janet

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    Dear Nat, Thank you so much for taking me to Nara! What a treat for the eyes (and other senses with a little imagination). All of that texture is intoxicating. Manhole covers are a photo topic of mine, and yes, that is the most beautiful one I have seen. Also, yes, the deer is adorable! Thank you again for all of the lovely photos and description. I’ll be anxiously awaiting more photos of your Japan experience.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Awe- thank you Janet for coming along :) More manhole covers coming soon – I wish I could have stayed longer just to get a whole collection together.

      Reply

  • Jill McDowell

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    Nat, that is absolutely the most adorable deer eva! I would have wanted to take him home with me. Those eyes!
    I’m blown away by all of these gorgeous pics. The moss and those lanterns.. and the manhole cover. Can’t wait to see more.
    I had to read the dates twice.. 710? That’s history. Thanks for sharing

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      LOL – I know the deer was “killing” me :) I now the dates are making you aware how much history is out in the world!

      Reply

  • Sara jansen

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    That deer!!!! The rest of the pictures and stories are great but you are absolutely right about how cute that little guy is!!!

    Reply

  • Sue Clarke

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    That deer is THE cutest deer eva!!!
    How was the persimmon cake?
    I recently discovered persimmons and they are so hard to find. My local TJMaxx carries the dried ones which are very good for a snack.
    Thanks for your gorgeous pics…such history that we just don’t have in our young country here.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Sue, the persimmon cake was super yummie. We do have an Asian supermarket here and indeed as Joanne points out they are usually carrying them in the fall.

      Reply

    • Joanne Howard

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      Sue, I don’t know where you live but persimmons are a Fall fruit. In the fall season Fuyu persimmons are small and squaty . You can eat them when they are a little hard, peel and slice them like an apple .I think they are Korean. Not sure but I get them at my local Asian grocery store.

      There is another type of persimmon that is larger and more pointy. They need to ripen until really soft. They will be sweet and messy. If eaten too soon, they are bitter

      Reply

      • Nathalie Kalbach

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        We also get them at the Asian supermarket and I second what you said. It is so fun to discover unusual and different fruits and veggies from the Asian market.

        Reply

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Inspired by: Tokyo, Japan

Japan was so so amazing – I am back now for a couple weeks and still so full of all the inspiration and impressions of this trip. I want to share some with you in a couple upcoming posts- this one is from our time in Tokyo. We were there a couple days in the beginning of our trip and a couple of days at the end.

This is a corner of the area where the Imperial Palace is located -you can only get into the palace if you apply for tickets way in advance for a certain day and time -but just walking through the park surrounding it was just beautiful.

Love those trees!

Koi everywhere – gigantic buggers- and to be honest, I am not actually a fish-person- LOL- I love their marks and colors- very cool!

Beautiful bridge iron work.

We were a couple days too early for a full cherry blossom bloom – Sakura -but some cherry blossoms and also as above magnolia were already out -so beautiful!

One of the many beautiful temple we saw. This one is the Hie Temple in Akasaka – I love the colors and all the details- the beautiful roofs.

Subway art – so beautiful!

Little electric cars zipping around at the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is one  of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. Watching those cars cruising around at the market is watching like a little ballet – it was fun …btw at 6am in the morning because jet lag said- hey- just get up and going ;)

The Meiji Shrine is located in a beautiful forest – the Torii (gate above) is leading to the Shrine.

Colorful Sake Barrels on the way to the shrine, which are offered every year to the enshrined deities by nationwide brewers.

The Shrine – very empty as it was again early in the morning – see jet lag has some perks- ;)

We were actually witnesses a traditional Japanese wedding. At a Shinto reception, the bride will get married in a long white kimono. Then she may come to the reception in a colorful, embroidered kimono, then change into a Western-style white wedding dress, and then into an evening gown or a party dress. phew I get tired just reading all this- but hey it was sure really beautiful to look at.

Such a beautiful door at the Shrine! We visited even more Shrines and Temples- but hey- before you get Temple Fatigue I am saving more pictures of those for my special post from Nara for later :)

Did I mention that jet lag was a real troublemaker this time? Well 14 hours time difference were just not easy to deal with…but …well…you can actually see the busiest pedestrian crossing  of the world – Shibuya Crossing –  from a cafe window without ANY people on a Sunday morning- LOL. You might know it also from a scene in “Lost in Translation” – and boy I experienced the totally crowded crossing during rush hour in the middle of the week- woot what an adrenalin kick :)

There is actually a life camera of the crossing- check out if you are watching at actual rush hour- LOL otherwise it is boring ;)

Total nuts- telling you ;)

My husband was at a conference for a couple days and on one of the days I was on my own I actually took a Japanese Cooking Class. It was so much fun! I will tell you more about it in a different post- but I can highly recommend doing it through Airbnb Experiences with Yukari- From Market to Meal . It was a highlight of the trip and I already cooked several of the things I learned back home.

This man making water drawings was so cool – I loved this – he would ask people what their favorite animal is and then start drawing. And no…he did not want any money although he deserved it – he just did it for fun …so delightful!!!

a little walk over to the Asahi Brewery – not really for the beer but for the view and definitely a cheaper view than from the sky tree. The brewery building with the golden thing on top designed by Philippe Starck is supposed to be a flame. Well…it  is also know as “Golden Turd” or the “Poo Building” …go figure- lol

And I cannot resist showing those signs  – when do you usually see a “NO Rickshaws” sign?

It was awesome in Tokyo -I am still trying to get a grip of all the inspiration. I am sure some of it will resurface in one form of the other in the future ;) Next stop is Kyoto, I hope you will join me :)

Comments (6)

  • Judi Vreeland

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    I love the photos of your trip to Japan. In less than 30 days we will be in Tokyo for one night before getting on the NCL Jewel. Did you have any problems obtaining cash, yen? Did you have any problems using a credit card. Thanks for your help. We are staying at the Keio Hotel just one night.
    Judi Vreeland

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Judi, you will have such a great time :) There are ATM’s at the airport for the first money change and throughout the city of course as well. Credit cards were accepted in big department stores but cash is a better option for most restaurants etc. So I would advice getting a yen at the airport when you arrive to be save. Have a great time.

      Reply

  • Sue Clarke

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    The door at the Shrine!!! The trees! Awesome inspiration all around you in Japan for sure.

    Reply

  • Jean Goza

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    Loved your photos. The sights and colors look amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    Jean

    Reply

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Currently Digging – April 2018 AIT

Once in a while I thought I would share with you some nifty finds – like an Artist who’s work caught my eye…, Inspiration and the what, when and where that caught my eye and got my creative juices flowing and Tools & Techniques I am currently digging and what did they do that was so cool or the application that I’m taking away. Hope you enjoy this.

Here we go for this month:

I talked about Isamu Noguchi in my blog post yesterday as I went to the Noguchi Museum for an Art Stroll recently.

Isamu Noguchi, one of the most important sculptors and designers of the 20th century, was born in 1904 in the the U.S to an American mother and a Japanese father. His father was a well known poet who went back to Japan before Isamu was born. Isamu grew up partly in the States and in Japan. When he and his mother were living in Japan, he drew a house when he was 8 years old. The house combined western and eastern elements and his mother decided to have him oversee the design and construction of their new house. He became an apprentice of a carpenter and that is when he started learning how to work with wood and other materials.

His sculptures are beautiful and emotional to look at and his light sculptures are such a wonderful way of combining traditional with modern design, art with craft, and west with east. I am equally inspired by his interesting life as well as his work.

“We are a landscape of all we have seen.” – Isamu Noguchi

And this leads me to the next point on my list:

I had watched the movie “Leonie” several years ago and remember I enjoyed it, but after going to the Noguchi Museum and traveling to Japan, I rewatched it and this time it totally sparked inspiration and lots of thoughts.

The movie actually tells the story of Isamu Noguchi’s mother and her fascinating and interesting life- what a powerful woman. I also enjoyed the pictures and sceneries of the movie. Of course a lot of the plot is speculation, but maybe you find it as interesting and inspiring as I did- so I highly recommend watching it.

Currently I am totally obsessed with my inkstone and inkstick.

Inksticks are a type of solid ink used traditionally in several East Asian cultures for calligraphy and brush painting. There is so practical for traveling since you do not have to worry that an ink bottle might break and they are small and light. You basically take a little bit of water and add it to the inkstone and then grind the inkstick on top of it until you get ink that is thick and deep black. The amount of water determines how much ink you make.

I love the different gray shades that the ink from the stick creates when using it on paper. I used it for some line and mark making as well as sketching out those two ladies above. I am still practicing but I am already deeply in love with my new tools :)

See you soon again with some new nifty finds that I am currently digging !

Comments (2)

  • ARHuelsenbeck

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    I put Leonie on my watchlist on your recommendation.

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Artful Adventures Quote

I hope you are letting go this weekend and having some fun with your art making :)  For more inspiration, pick up a copy of my book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media for yourself or someone on your holiday list who could use some creative encouragement!

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