Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rookwood Tiles, Carew Tower

As a small child, I looked forward to any downtown shopping trip that included a walk through the arcade of the Carew Tower, Cincinnati's Art Deco landmark. It was a chance to gawk at the tall panels of Rookwood tiles that rise up and over each end of the arcade. I knew nothing about design history and had never heard the term Art Deco. But the colorful geometric magnificence of the ceramic flowers and leaves held me in their thrall. Those hexagonal blooms and chevron-sectioned leaves still crop up in my artwork. The seeds of early design influences may be sown long before we are aware of them. If we are lucky, they will continue to inspire us for a lifetime.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Really Bright Tulips

If you take your cues from the shops that sell greeting cards, home decor and craft supplies, spring is a season of  pastels. I like yellows mint greens and lavenders as much as the next person, but the truth is that they don't really satisfy my pent-up hunger for color in the garden. That's why this bed of tulips thrills me. The color scheme may seem too shocking for a neighborhood garden, but it is based on sound color theory. It's a split complementary combination. On the color wheel, reddish-orange and magenta lie on either side of red. Red's complement is green, conveniently represented by the spring foliage. Color theory in action. Who says you’ll never use that stuff that you learn in school?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Air Force Memorial: Rainy Day

This week marks the beginning of my fifth year of posting a Weekly Photo. It's become my tradition to start the year with an image of the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Those three metal arcs have many moods, reflecting the sky, disappearing into low clouds or standing as backlit silhouettes at night. One gloomy afternoon, rain on the windshield distorted the arcs, fracturing the curves into a complicated collage in shades of gray. Another view, another variation on a theme.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sugar Mice

There they were, in the front window of a bakery, huddled in a tray between the chocolate eclairs and the eccles tarts. Sugar mice are especially popular around Christmas time but it was May when I first laid eyes on them. They are a peculiarly English confection, with their string tails and crystallized pastel bodies. How did this get started? Imagine a confectioner waking up one morning and thinking "Why yes, I'll make some candy rodents—they are sure to sell!" Who am I to judge? The population of marshmallow chicks and bunnies may currently outnumber the total populace of the United States, at least until small children dig into their Easter baskets. Do they know about Peeps in England?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rainbow Frames

My friend Linda Cooper teaches fabric painting classes. Although I was supposed to be helping her clean up, I stopped to admire the stack of frames leaning in repose against the wall. Each one tells a story of fabrics stretched and stapled, of colors chosen, brushed, splashed, spritzed and sponged. Every time they were used, a little paint remained behind on the wood.The colors have mixed in unexpected improvisational combinations.Those frames are a marvel, as interesting as the fabrics they supported.