Monday, October 14, 2013
On our last full day in Ireland, my in-laws took us to Sunday dinner at the nearby Bellinter House in Co. Meath. It was just a few miles down the road near the Hill of Tara.
The estate dates back to the 1650s, but the current home was built in 1750 in the Palladian Georgian style. It operated as a country home for the Preston family. In the late 1700s, the estate became known for its hunting hounds and hunting parties. It stayed in the Preston family until 1892. After that, it changed hands a few times until the property was ultimately sold to the Irish Land Commission and broken up. The Sisters of Scion took it over in 1965 and ran it for 50 years.
Now it’s a small hotel, spa, restaurant, and wedding venue.
Rocket and duck salad.
Spinach and ricotta tortellini with a rocket and parmesan salad on top.
We ate in the Eden Restaurant which used to be a chapel. The ceilings were vaulted, and it reminded me of a spartan version of the ground floor of Sainte-Chapelle. After all the meat-heavy dishes at TBEX, I was happy to have a salad and pasta. It was a nice, quiet dinner and the portions were not gigantic but more than filling. The fresh bread was ridiculously warm and delicious. I could have eaten a whole loaf.
The feature the struck me the most at Bellinter House was the gigantic weeping beech tree on the front lawn. I had seen this tree on Pinterest (after searching Navan, Ireland), and I thought it was a fake photo or wrongly attributed. You rarely see trees this large in Ireland, and I had never seen a weeping beech tree before. I thought weeping willows were the only weeping trees. I could totally see a small, intimate wedding ceremony being held under the tree in the summer.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Dowdstown House is located in Dalgan Park in Navan, Ireland. The current structure was built at the end of the 18th century by a retired British officer. It essentially functioned like Downton Abbey, providing employment for locals by working in the home or on the farm. It now serves as a retreat and counseling center.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Since last month’s ArtSmart, I started a job at a museum (YAY! FINALLY!), so I’ve been a bit busier than of late. And I’m still recovering from TBEX Dublin which is why I’m late.
This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable is featuring artists. After scanning through my past few articles, I wanted to break away from medieval and Italian art to change things up. So I’m focusing on the prints and drawings of Albrecht Dürer, a genius artist of the Northern Renaissance. I love his INCREDIBLY easy to spot signature as a sort of “logo”. While his paintings may be familiar to you (you might recognize his Self Portrait 1500), I want to highlight his printmaking and drawing skills.
The Large Passion: 9. Last Supper, circa 1497, woodcut, by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons
His printmaking is kind of a big deal. He was able to introduce midtones to his woodcuts creating 3 shades instead of just 2. The above woodcut has cross-hatching to add depth and add a gray shade to his black and white image. His engravings became incredibly detailed because of his use of the burin, a chisel like tool that can add fine lines which create depth and mood to a piece. Rather than simply carving a shape into a plate or piece of wood, he mastered a more painterly look in prints with his skill at adding tones and depth.
Having taken a printmaking class and been a member of a printmaking studio, woodcuts are easier to wrap your head around when creating a design. The parts that you cut away remain white (or whatever color the paper is) while the areas at the highest point are the color of the ink used. Like a rubber stamp. Depending on the kind of wood, it can be an easy enough process to pick up. You just have to remember that the image on the block will be reversed on paper. Engraving on copper is much more sophisticated. The lines carved into the plate are what will transfer as the ink color on paper. You’re essentially drawing into the plate with various tools. I never moved on to metal plates (they’re expensive to experiment with), but I can tell you the engraving a curve on plexiglass is not the easiest task in the world. Copper is relatively soft, so an engraver has to be careful that their engraving lines are not too deep (resulting in a very dark color or even punching through the back of the plate). Drypoint is engraving with a needle rather than a burin, etching is engraving into a chemical ground and immersing the plate in acid which eats into the engraved parts, and mezzotint is creating a background of dots to add tone to the image. You can also add tone to an engraving by not wiping away all of the ink from the plate, but mezzotint creates a more uniform tone.
The Rhinoceros, 1515, woodcut (based on an illustration in a German book) by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons
Dürer’s prints also helped spread his reputation around Europe. The printing press had been invented years earlier in Guttenberg, and prints were being added to illustrate books and papers. These prints were the same in each book rather than hand illustrating. Dürer was able to use current technology to get his work out there in a way other artists hadn’t been able to before thanks to his skill as a drawer/engraver and his location in Germany where presses were more available.
A Young Hare, 1502, gouache and watercolor on paper by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons
Praying Hands, 1508, gray and white ink on blue paper by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons
Paumgartner Altarpiece, after 1503, oil on panel by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons
Dürer’s unique style was influenced by his travels. He was able to travel to Italy twice and see the works of Italian Renaissance masters such as Mantegna, Bellini, and Raphael. The emerging humanism in Italian art coupled with a new focus on perspective and anatomy carried over into his paintings and prints. He was also able to travel to the Low Countries and Switzerland which showed him other Northern styles of late Gothic and early Renaissance art. He synthesized these various influences into his own style rather than continuing the tradition of the local master painter that was common in many areas where travel was much harder for artists. His paintings favor dark backgrounds which is common in Northern art, but his proportions and perspective are closer to his Italian contemporaries.
You can find Dürer’s works all over the world such as the Louvre, the Uffizi, London’s National Gallery, various German museums, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (when it reopens…). He enjoyed continued patronage and popularity throughout his career, so many of his works survive compared to other German artists of his time.
This Month’s Fellow ArtSmart Roundtable Articles:
Christina of Daydream Tourist: Jacob Lawrence
Jeff of EuroTravelogue: Aert van der Neer: Dutch Painter of the Moonlight
Jenna at This Is My Happiness: Romero Britto and Art around the World
Saturday, October 5, 2013
The clouds, the threatening rain, and the green all came together to make this view.
Monday, September 30, 2013
I caught this cute moment during a break at TBEX Vancouver
My one and only previous TBEX was in Vancouver few years ago. I got a last minute ticket and was excited to meet so many bloggers that I only knew via their blogs and Twitter.
There were some helpful sessions (like taking better photos and finding your niche), but I was completely overwhelmed by a lot of other things. I wasn’t blogging to make money. I just don’t want to work 80 hours a week, sorry. I wasn’t a “cool kid” so I wasn’t invited to a lot of the other parties going on. And I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people to meet and talk with.
The week after I got back, I was laid off from my non-profit job. The lay-off coupled with the energy from TBEX catapulted me into getting my blog transferred from Blogger to WordPress, hiring a friend to redesign the site, and really looking at freelancing while using my blog as a creative outlet and portfolio.
After several months of doing that, I realized freelancing is not for me. I crave some kind of routine and stability. But I also crave an environment that lets me do different things.
I recently started a job at a small museum, and one of my biggest roles (of many) is that of social media coordinator. This TBEX, not only am I looking forward to seeing old friends and being back in Dublin for the eighth time, but also to really focus on the community building sessions. Not only will it help me make A Sense of Place the best it can be, but that track will help me improve the strategy at my museum. I know basics, but I want to know how to keep and engage the community for each place.
The last TBEX inspired me to launch the ArtSmart Roundtable with fellow travel bloggers with a love of art and art history. The ArtSmart posts are my most viewed and commented on posts month after month, and our group has been listed as a resource for classics students at Cambridge University. Who knows what’s in store after this TBEX.