Thursday, June 20, 2013

Indulgence, Flamingos and Hot Pink and Orange

encaustic 6x6
Summer of Color3 - hot pink and orange
It felt like a sweet indulgence.  We sat in the sun, under a palm tree and sipped coffee and ate old fashioned doughnuts.  The world carried on around us and we didn't care.  The best part of the whole experience is that we talked about art.  We talked about line and texture.  We talked about how colors play off each other and can actually make a painting seem as if it vibrates.  We talked about the artists we admire.  We talked about the art hanging in a juried show that we both had attended.  We talked about our own art and what it means to make it.   We talked about what's next.  For one hour, all the other stuff in life was put aside and art was the subject. 
Find an artist friend, take an hour and indulge yourself.  Its good for the soul.

encaustic 6x12
Summer of Color3 - hot pink and orange

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Car Trip Itinerary Northern Spain - Costa Brava, Sitges, Girona and Begur

So, I usually try to keep this blog to being about art and life and how they intertwine.  Yet, I felt that I wanted to share about my recent road trip through northern Spain and the Costa Brava.  I actually had a hard time finding information when I was planning this trip - so I hope there are other fellow travellers that find this information useful.

We did our booking before we left home.  I got my rental car here and my hotel here.  I also found trip advisor to be a wonderful resource for hotel ideas as well as other information.  Check with your credit card company - many of them will provide damage insurance coverage on a car charged on the card.  You do need to confirm the details on this before you leave.  Also, get the GPS - its worth it.

I found this book to be really useful for Spain car trip itineraries.  Do remember that when you leave Barcelona - all shops in the outer cities take their siesta time from 2-5 in the afternoon and they are closed.  Also, the banks close at 2 and do not reopen but the cash machines are plentiful.

View from the roof top terrace at Hotel Davallada
Day 1 - We left Barcelona and drove to Sitges by windy coastal road.  Really beautiful to drive along the sea.  We stayed at Hotel Davallada which is pretty cute.  Only 4 large rooms in the place and the most amazing breakfast ever.  It is a unique small boutique hotel with two terraces, so if that's not your cup of tea, its not the place for you.  We walked into the happening area where there are lots of restaurants and bars.  Yet we had some trouble landing on a restaurant that looked good to us.  The next day we walked down to the marina area and found there to be lots of restaurant choices there that we thought looked good.  However, we were leaving that morning, so we didn't get to try any.  Sorry, no food recommendations here except for breakfast at the Hotel Davallada - yum.

We also left Sitges on Day 1 and drove to Vilafranca Del Penedes - the home of yummy cava (sparkling Spanish wine in both white and rose) which we girls grew very fond of on our trip to Spain.  We hit the wine museum and had a walk about and lunch in the square.

Vilafranca Del Penedes
Day 2 - We headed to Girona with a couple stops along the way.  Our first stop was Montserrat.  We drove all the way to the top on a narrow twisty mountain road that reminded me of the Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park.  There is ample parking at the top.  We didn't realize the hiking opportunities that abound in the area, so we did not plan the time for the walks there.  I would recommend spending at least an extra hour or two+ to do a little hiking as well as seeing the beautiful church and stunning views.



The city of Vic is directly en route to Girona.  Being that we fell deeply in love with Spanish ham and sausage it seemed a likely stop as it is the sausage capital. 

Home of the sausage
We arrived in Girona late afternoon and stayed at the lovely  - Hotel Nord 1901.  I would highly recommend this hotel.  Not only are the rooms beautiful, it is in a great location, the staff is wonderful and the breakfast was really good.  Girona was one of our favorite stops.  We really liked this town and it could easily be used as a base camp for day trips to the coast or Figueres.  Lovely restaurants, a beautiful old town, and good shopping.  We walked the wall around the city.  Its an easy walk and gives you nice views.  If you are a cyclist, there is a bike shop owned by a guy from the UK that rode professionally.  He now sells on consignment the jerseys of professional bikers that rode in the Tour de France.  We picked up a jersey there - a nice souvenir for enthusiasts.  There are several good restaurants in Girona including the #2 restaurant in the world.  We ate at a place called Draps which was very good and in the center of the old town.  Don't bother with the Saturday market - it was a bust. 




Day 3 -   We had spent most of the day in Girona and left mid afternoon.  On the way to Begur (our next hotel destination) we stopped in La Bisbal which is the pottery capital.  No problem finding lots of pottery shops with many choices.  Beautiful and colorful and worth the stop if you like Spanish pottery.  We arrived in Begur around 6PM to the - hotel El Petit Convent.  It is a new and small extension of the Convent Hotel in Begur.  There are 11 rooms, they are beautiful and new.  The location is perfect in the old town and the staff was very nice and helpful.  The breakfast was great.  Our first night we drove to Aiguablava to eat at seaside at the Toc Delmar - fresh grilled fish. 

Day 4 - We continued our stay in Begur at the same hotel.  Being it was Sunday, we headed out for a day trip to l'Escala to go to the Sunday market.  The market runs along the sea side promenade and is full of all kinds of clothing, jewelry, bags and other market kind of finds.  Its a good market and worth the trip if you like those kind of markets.  It closes at 1:00.  L'Escala was our furthest point for the day and we headed back towards Begur and went a little inland to Peratallada which is a small medieval town that has kept its charm.  It is worth a visit to walk around - many restaurants with set 3 course yummy meals.  Back to Begur . We walked up to the castle which offers wonderful 360 views of the area surrounds.  Ate dinner at Pizetta - must have reservations as it is very popular and fills every night.  The salads were killer and the pizza (while smaller) was delicious. 


Day 5 - We headed back to Barcelona. But, before leaving the area, we drove to Sa Tuna. Its a cute little seaside town close to Begur.  Its just 1 hour round trip walk from Begur if you are up for a hike.
Sa Tuna

Our last night in Barcelona we wanted to be in La Rambla area.  We stayed at Petit Palace Bouqueria.  For location, this hotel is great - 1/2 block off the Rambla and just a couple of minutes from the Bouqueria market, and right in the heart of where you want to wander and shop.   It claims to be a 4 star - its questionable about the rating and if you stay here don't set your expectations to 4 star level.  We were a bit disappointed with the hotel itself - but breakfast was yummy and they offer a free 2.5 hour walking tour of the area every day, and the location is perfect. 

Great trip. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Aura, Wind in the Sails and Vacations

The Goddess of the Breeze
encaustic on birch 6 x 12
Aura was the goddess of the breeze and the fresh cool air of early morning.  She has a sketchy history with the other gods and goddesses that turned her a bit mad - but I've chosen to portray her as a pleasant wind in the sails. 

Speaking of wind in the sails - I've been on a bit of a break from the studio and also everyday life.  No better way to do that than to get out of town.  Hubs and I took off for 10 days away.  I honestly think it was perfect timing as we both were feeling as if we had lost the wind in our sails.  Work has been hard for Hubs and I've been painting like a mad woman with endless hours in the studio trying to prepare for the June show at the winery - I ended with 64 finished paintings - phew! 

view from 8 Bells Winery
I'm a huge proponent of vacation.  It never seems to be the right timing when it actually comes around - but if we ever waited for the right timing... I don't think we'd ever get out of town.  So, I just book it anyway - its paid for, we're going and somehow regardless of timing - we make it work.  And... it always refreshes the wind in the sails.

No better way to get sailing again than to participate in Summer of Color!  Its in full swing - starting this week with Citron Green and Turquoise as our challenge.  Looking forward to seeing what amazing creations come from this beautiful combination.  Want to play along?  Hit the button and join the fun.

You can see my first attempts at the color combination here
And.... its Friday!!

Summer of Color, Citron Green and Turquoise

Summer of color is a fun project and a wonderful community of artists from around the world.  Last year we followed ice cream inspiration and this year there is a voting process to choose the color combinations.  The first pick is citron green and turquoise.

water color and ws oils
 I was having some trouble with using only water soluble oils and getting the colors citron and turquoise.  I have a limited selection of colors and really mixing what I had wasn't cutting it.  So...  I grabbed the old water color set and laid in the bright colors.  Then using the ws oils over the top was kinda easy and added another dimension.  Hmmmmm... maybe I'm on to something here. 
water color and ws oils

ws oils and felt pens

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