Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hong Kong

Hong Kong was the final destination of the bonsai trip.  It was a short stay, but worth every minute of it as I can't imagine we'll ever have another opportunity to go there again.

The first picture was taken from our hotel room.

One of the first things we did was visit the Jade Market.  At first I thought I wouldn't buy anything, but . . . well, when would we ever have this chance again?  But oh my, how to choose?

While I have a dark green necklace already (it's malachite), I didn't have one in what I call celadon green.   I do now!  Below is a pile of bracelets in all kinds of colors.

There were other articles made from jade, other minerals, and even a bit of porcelain.

There were also pearls being sold here, and that was an even greater temptation.  But again I remained strong.  Only one pair of earrings to wear with a pink pearl necklace that I was given several years ago made its way into my purse.

I kept taking photos because the colors were so lovely.

On our way back from the Jade Market we wandered through a local food market.  Again the site with its colors and people appealed to me not only as reminders of a great trip but also as possible painting material - both the booths and the people.

Some of the lanes we wandered through were also intriguing.

Finally, to warm up we stopped at one of my favorite places to get a latte.  I was fascinated with a flavored latte (yes, I'm one of those happy lovers of flavored coffees) I'd never seen in the States (and still haven't) so I had to try it.  

It was called "Pop-zel" and was a combination of caramel popcorn and pretzels.  Sound weird?  Oh yes.  But as odd as it may seem, it was delicious!

 Later we took a walk to find a place for lunch and on the way passed some incredible trees lining the street.

 Nighttime saw us at the Night Market, but I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gyeongbukgung Palace: Traditional Dress Day

 The title of this entry says it all.  It was clear to us after this particular morning's tour that the South Koreans take Golden Week and its traditional base to dress in traditional dress.  Believe me, I didn't argue with that idea!  The possibilities for sketches, paintings, and quilt designs was multiplied by, well, five? ten? a lot anyway.

In the palace, we found this woman in the "kitchen".  Note the shoes - that gave me a giggle, but we all know what happens if your feet hurt!

 This is just a lovely area that I included here for painting purposes.  Imagine how the landscape would look with some of the locales in their traditional garb.  Well, not in the pond, of course!

These three ladies, for example could be walking beside the pond to the right where I would add a path (that was really there though it wasn't included in my photo).  Actually, they reminded me of Monet's "Women in the Garden" (find it on-line to see what I mean).  It's because of the shape of the skirts, I think.  Anyway, I think combining the two might work as a painting.


 Next there is this couple in gorgeous costume posing by the same pond.  Look how her skirt billows just beautifully in the wind.

Another couple.  You may wonder why most of the photos are taken from behind.  First, I didn't want to be rude or to make people self-conscious. Even though dressed as they were, they must have expected people like me who couldn't and wouldn't resist snapping away.

And viewed inside a Palace courtyard.

 Okay, here are some people viewed from the front.  Don't you just love their clothes and head coverings - and their smiles!

And that's the end of this tour!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Palace in Seoul, Day 2

First, I have to tell you that today D and I went to hear Handel's opera, Xerxes.  What a treat!  The singers ranged from good to outstanding, the costumes were fine, and the orchestra was very good as usual.  The only thing we did not cotton to was the scenery, and that may have been just us being - well, not "with it".  The title role (Xerxes, king of Persia) was sung by a sopranist (a term new to me).  If I am interpreting the term correctly, it is a man (not a castrato) who sings falsetto in a soprano range. A counter-tenor sings falsetto in the contralto to mezzo-soprano ranges. The man we heard sounded like true soprano with a more golden than silvery tone (unlike some males, who when using their falsetto ranges, sound either scratchy, thin, and/or strained).   Amazing.

Okay, now back to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. This lattice work in one of the buildings is a neat design that would lend itself to all sorts of possibilities.  Quilting being just one of them.

One of the buildings is set with a lake surrounding it.  

A family with three girls dressed in traditional costume (in honor of Golden Week) were playing nearby.

Love the design in the glass lantern as well as the one looking up at the underside of a roof point and a third in another lantern!

The rest are just photos of things I found lovely.  Most of these were in the area of the Palace grounds that have not yet been restored.

Lock on a door:

Looking through a doorway to admire the light on the building opposite:

 In the corner of a courtyard:

 A wonderful wooden door:

Looking through another opening (notice the panel to the right of the opening - a lovely tree) to the garden beyond:

Finally for today - six (I think) lovely bouquets:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Grandest of Grand Palaces in Seoul, South Korea

Having taken a break from recording details and photographs from our Asian trip to post painting tidbits, today we're back to Seoul in South Korea.  On our last day our guide took us to see one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seoul, the Gyeongbokgung Palace.  I've taken the liberty of quoting from:

"Joseon Dynasty was founded. Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was located at the heart of newly appointed capital of Seoul (then known as Hanyang) and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Dynasty. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.

An effort by the Korean government has been ongoing since 1990 to rebuild and restore the buildings that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This 40-year restoration project aims to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its original form in the next twenty years. The palace also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea."

Unfortunately, our guide rushed us through so fast we barely had time to enjoy the Palace or take pictures (though I managed to do that and still - just barely - keep up).  I can't remember if I explained earlier that part if our trip to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong coincided with Golden Week.  Some major holidays (Constitution Day, Greenery Day - like our Arbor Day, Children's Day, and depending on who you talk to Buddha's Birthday) are on consecutive days. In Japan and Korea and probably some other Asia countries as well, the entire week is a national holiday.  Tourism is very, very heavy at that time so all tourist sites are extremely crowded.  The breakneck pace through Gyeongbokgung Palace was probably set so we could miss the height of the crowds.

Anyway, for whatever reason, we hurried but still saw some wonderful buildings:

This is probably the original entrance to the compound though not the one through which tourists enter.  Our early arrival is apparent in the lack of milling crowds.

A beautifully painted ceremonial drum.  If you've been following the saga of our trip or be familiar with Japanese art, you may notice the difference in the painting style between the South Koreans and the Japanese.

Here is where the Korean designs become more noticeably unique.  Below is the interior ceiling of the archway through which we did pass:

The archway - see the painting?  Then there's also the view through - we went through many such archways leading to many such buildings.  Each building took one higher up the chain of importance until - if one was important enough himself or worthy enough - he reached the emperor.

On this set of stairs, you will also notice a charming difference in the Korean sculpture:

This beast is keeping an eye on the passers-by as they walk through an open-air sunken walkway.

This lovely lantern caught my eye in the throne room:

A favorite photograph showing all the decorated beams holding up the multi-level roof.  Notice the absence of dragons?

In the background I saw this lovely porcelain vase back in a corner in front of the porcelain lattice.  And lo, here's the dragon!

 The throne:

I should warn you; the above is just the beginning!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sketchbook Practice

The computer has not been playing nicely with me of late!  I, of course, think it is because I missed a night or two of writing entries so it paid me back by not letting me do anything at all.  It was D-who-knows-little-about-computers-and-always-yells-for-me-when-something-goes-wrong who told me how to correct the problem!  

Now that I am back I want to share what I have been doing with my painting rather than diving back into Tourist University.  It takes a lot of time to weed through the many photos I take in order to come up with ones that I think are worthy of sharing.  The last time I worked at that job, I thought of all the many pictures I take that are nice but don't merit a serious painting (serious = spending days on a work and usually framing it when finished).  All those enticing pictures that I like but do nothing with.  

So I decided to paint a few of those teasers that nip at my fingers and tangle my hair as I scroll through those that possibly merit hanging on the wall.  What I thought would be a Good Plan was to relegate the curiously intriguing subjects to my sketchbook.  That way I could get the photo out of my system while at the same time getting some much needed practice.  Then I had to determine what I thought needed (or what I was will to) practice and settled on working loosely (limiting the amount of fussy detail).

My sketchbook has been used primarily for en plein air (painting outdoors) which I don't do very often (usually only on vacations).  That's why I started with a painting of our garden rather than one of a photograph.

Even though I thought I was finished after one sitting, I found the next day that there were a few details I wanted to add without going overboard.  I resisted the temptation to fix the birdbath , make the flowers more distinct, or clarify the background.  Not doing any of that allowed me to call this "Morning Mist".

The next subject came from the photos taken in Japan.  One in particular intrigued me even as I took it, and when I saw the resulting photo, the urge to paint it was very strong.  I loved the composition, the colors, and the subject, but you can see why this isn't necessarily frame-worthy.  We had visited a bonsai nursery in the countryside where there were many rice paddies.  When we saw this, at first I thought it was another rice paddy, but eventually realized the man was fishing in a marina. There were boats visible - just not in this photo.  

I loved the composition, the colors, and the subject, but you can see why this isn't necessarily frame-worthy.  We had visited a bonsai nursery in the countryside where there were many rice paddies.  When we saw this, at first I thought it was another rice paddy, but eventually realized the man was fishing in a marina. There were boats visible - just not in this photo.  This was also a two day painting because I had to let the washes dry before adding some necessary detail as well as making some shadows darker.  This is "Lone Fisherman".  

Today I finished the third painting - another 2 day work.  This one came from a photograph I took probably 20 - 25 years ago before I took up art again in a serious way. The subject called to me (you'll understand why) and the setting was our much loved Vermont lake.

This exercise has taught me that most of the time, my sketches will take two days.  If I had a full day to work on painting only, I could finish one in a single day by painting in the morning, letting the washes dry, and finishing the details (even something as simple as the fisherman had to wait for a dry surface) in the afternoon.  Normally I have only a morning or an afternoon for painting instead of a full day.  This painter is painting the scene I have in the background and is holding her brushes and rag in her hand as she studies her work.  Right now I call it "Painting Day" although that doesn't quite satisfy me yet.

Already I have learned that I am impelled to add some detail but that I have gotten better about restraining my tendency to overpaint.  I have a better feel for  and understanding of this medium, and I enjoy it more now than when I first started with it. 

My goal is to get at least one more "sketch" in my sketchbook before the studio lessons pick up again next week.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Touristy Night Time in Seoul

Having taken a rest from the So Korea portion of our trip with the last entry, I'm back to work tonight.  However, there is still a bit of a twist tonight, also.  The photos are all from our evening excursion around our hotel with some friends.  It was most definitely non-scripted, non traditional sightseeing of the kind we had been doing.

First of all, we were hungry!  So the majority of these photos are from the outdoor food market as we wandered among Seoul natives and other tourists like us looking for something to eat.  I'll let you scroll through the photos, stopping at the ones that speak to you without my interference.

After eating, we wandered through the side streets.

Every now and then, we caught a glimpse of special buildings.  One person in our group said that when he was on R & R in Seoul during the Viet Nam War, there were no buildings higher than four stories.  Times have certainly changed!

Like several of the places we saw in Japan, there was evidence in South Korea of a concern for the environment.  This is a wall of greenery in the middle of Seoul - love the name of the building, don't you?

But here is evidence of the difference between the two cultures.  The lion figure is very different from the Japanese.  Love them both, though.  But maybe it's a dragon; those do look like scales.  I should have done my research before writing.

D and a friend strolling ahead of me.

Here's a cobbler hard at work even in the evening.

Then once back in our hotel, we went up to the lounge on the top floor where I took this photograph of the city.

Altogether it was a lovely day - and night!