Friday, July 31, 2015

Styling The Seasons - July

Styling The Seasons, roses, blackberries, 495-USA, flower arrangement, floral arrangement, lavender, The Haeger Potteries, Shirokiya, Shirokiya brand, Shirokiya light, Shirokiya night light, Haeger vase, Haeger yellow vase, Haeger yellow flower vase, Haeger floral

During July, I've been having fun with flowers and floral arrangements, and so that's what I'm featuring for this month's Styling The Seasons post. As well as taking a memorable trip to a festival at a nearby lavender farm and getting to cut the bouquet in the yellow vase, I also applied some of the flower arranging skills I've learned lately, and came up with a lovely rose and blackberry floral display.
Flower arranging techniques have always seemed like an impossible mystery to me. When I started gardening a few years ago, I wanted to display flowers from my garden inside my home. That started me on a journey of discovery, to understand the methods involved in creating arrangements, and applying the skills I learned along the way. My greatest sources of inspiration have been Instagram and blogs. At Instagram, I discovered a whole new way of displaying and photographing flowers; and blogs, such as Design Sponge, have flower arranging tutorials. One such tutorial had an arrangement that utilized blackberries in this particular stage of growth, and I loved it so much that I wanted to give it a try. I liked how the coral pink roses have similar hues as the unripe berries, and decided to mix the two:

coral roses, blackberries, roses, 495-USA, flower arrangement, floral arrangement, roses and blackberries floral arrangement
roses, blackberries, rose and blackberry floral arrangement, floral arrangement
roses, blackberries, rose and blackberry floral arrangement, floral arrangment

The white rectangular ceramic container I used in the above arrangement is vintage, but the only marking on the bottom is '495-USA'.

On a recent beautiful sunny Saturday we drove east of town, up the McKenzie River to a Lavender Festival held at the McKenzie Lavender Farm. As you might imagine, there was lavender everything in the booths that were around the flower fields - soaps, perfumes, essential oils - and even lavender soda! There were five varieties of lavender to choose from, and a helpful staff at the ready, handing out scissors for cutting the flowers, and floral wire to wrap it up into bunches. I decided to cut some of each of the five varieties, which created a richly toned bouquet of the various shades of purple.

lavender, Haeger vase, Haeger floral vase, The Haeger Potteries, paper banner, decorative paper banner, Webster's pages, Webster's pages Nest, Webster's pages Brandi O'Neill, Webster's pages My Home

I placed the majority of the lavender bouquet in a yellow Haeger floral vase. The Haeger Potteries have been making artware here in the United States since 1871, and like Fiestaware, it's a brand I have always loved collecting, whether one of the newest pieces available today, or a lucky vintage find in a charity shop.

Haeger floral vase, yellow Haeger floral vase, The Haeger Potteries floral vase, The Haeger Potteries, lavender, summer lavender bouquet
Shirokiya lamp, Shirokiya lamp made in Japan, Japanese Shirokiya lamp, Shirokiya brand lamp, Shirokiya night light, Shirokiya brand night light, Shirokiya wooden lamp, Shirokiya wood light

Have I shown you this cute little wooden night lamp before? It may have appeared in some other post in the past, but I haven't yet talked about it.  

The Shirokiya company has been making decorative home furnishings, such as this lamp, ever since it was founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1662 - during the Edō period! Of course this particular lamp isn't that old, but my guess, based on the writing style of the sticker on it, is that it's from the 1960s or '70s. Our family has been using it as a night light in our kitchen/dining area, and the small bulb inside lights up an illustrated scenic panel, casting a very nice warm glow at night.

Shirokiya light, Shirokiya night light, Shirokiya brand wooden night lamp, Shirokiya wood light

The paper banner shown in the top photo, and the photo below, is one I made last month and featured in my Styling The Seasons post for the month of June. I'm still enjoying it a lot, and decided to leave it up for the summer months. I love how the white banner looks against the turquoise wall!

Shirokiya lamp, Haeger floral vase, Webster's pages Nest, Fiestaware, vintage birds in flight, flower arrangement, floral arrangement, roses, blackberries, lavender, Styling The Seasons

Thank you for joining me for this month's Styling The Seasons! If you would like to know more about Styling The Seasons, visit Katy Orme's blog Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte's blog Lotts & lots.  


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Picasso And Primitivism: The Story Behind The Masks

Picasso, Primitivism, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, art, art history, painting, African art, African sculpture, Iberian sculpture, modern art
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907
Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation concerning how Pablo Picasso conceived the ideas for his paintings, and what influences played a part in his departure from traditional representational art to a linear, more abstract style.  In Gardner's "Art Through The Ages", Fred S. Kleiner and Christin J. Mamiya refer to the "energetic, violently striated features of the two heads to the right" in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, seen above. But are they "violently striated heads", or are these two young ladies actually wearing masks?

Considered to be at the forefront of the modernist artistic movement, Picasso was greatly influenced by what is known as the 'plastic arts' (a reference to sculpture and its three dimensional interpretation of form), and is said to have been intensely committed to innovation, both materially and stylistically. As well, he was an avid collector of African arts.

During the early years of the twentieth century, as a direct result of European colonialism, anthropological and ethnographic museums had become well established in many of the major cities of Europe.  Displaying thousands of art objects made by the peoples of the Oceanic and African colonies, these museums provided an insight into parts of the world that previously most European people knew little about.  Unfortunately, the manner in which these artworks were displayed, referring to them as 'artificial curiosities' or 'primitive objects', reinforced to the public the idea that colonialism was justified.

Although the term 'Primitivism' appears to have been coined around this time (with similar notions going as far back as Socrates), it has both positive and negative connotations in the art historical record.  In its most basic usage, it refers to a certain simplicity of form, yet it can also insinuate a lack of intellectual reasoning or low level of artistic skill.  For the purposes of this essay, let us say that we are using the term 'primitive' as it relates to an art process or style.

For the artists of the first decade of the twentieth century, it can be argued that their main purposes for borrowing certain aspects of African art styles and techniques was because it not only shook up what was a long tradition of naturalism and Realist painting schools, but also it intermingled certain stylistic traits of African art with their own works. Thus they created a fresh new art that represented a welcomed departure from traditional styles, a departure that was already at work, for example in the later, Post-Impressionist paintings of Paul Gauguin.

That is not to say that the creators of these new works were not ethnocentric, but they were lacking in the specialized knowledge that would have been required to know the context of African art.  Plucked from the hands of the original artists, shipped hundreds or thousands of miles away, displayed in museums as curios and at flea markets as trinkets - these are the circumstances under which Picasso and his contemporaries encountered these fascinating objects.  If anything they can be faulted for attaching their own subjective meanings to these works, as artists tend to do with most any aspect of their own art process. 

In fact, the story is that in about 1905, Parisian artists Maurice de Vlaminck and André Derain made several trips to the Trocadéro Museum in Paris.  According to De Vlaminck, in the excerpted essay Portraits avant déce's in "Primitivism and Twentieth-Century Art", "We had become thoroughly familiar with the museum, having looked at everything with great interest. But neither Derain nor I viewed the works on display there as anything other than barbarous fetishes. The notion that these were the expressions of an instinctive art had always eluded us."  Yet he found himself one afternoon in a bistro after having spent the day painting alongside the Seine River, facing, "three Negro sculptures. Two were statuettes from Dahomey...and the third, from the Ivory Coast..."  Of these he stated, "These three sculptures really struck me.  I intuitively sensed their power.  They revealed Negro Art to me."  He further exclaimed, "These three Negro statuettes in the Argenteuil bistro were showing me something of a very different order entirely!  I was moved to the depths of my being."  He convinced the owner to sell him the statues and showed them to a friend of his father's. This friend offered to give him more African sculptures.  He states, "I went to his place, and I took a large white mask and two superb Ivory Coast statues."

African mask, Fang Gabon mask, Primitivism, Maurice De Vlaminck, André Derain, white mask, African sculpture, African mask, wood mask, wood mask sculpture

"I hung the white mask over my bed", De Vlaminck went on to say, further stating, "I was at once entranced and disturbed: Negro Art was revealed to me in all its primitivism and all its grandeur. When Derain visited me and saw the white mask he was speechless."  Derain immediately offered to buy the mask but De Vlaminck turned down the offer.  Several days later, Derain offered a higher amount and De Vlaminck accepted, saying, "He took the object to his atelier on the Rue Tourlaque and hung it on a wall. When Picasso and Matisse saw it at Derain's they were absolutely thunderstruck."  

studio of André Derain, Paris studio of André Derain, Paris studio of André Derain, 1912, 1913, African masks, African sculptures, African art, studio art
Corner of the studio of André Derain, Paris, circa 1912-1913
French artist Henri Matisse also had an interest in African sculpture.  In another essay, First Encounter With African Art, Matisse tells the story of frequently walking past a curio shop and seeing African statues.  In describing what he saw he stated, "I was astonished to see how they were conceived from the point of view of sculptural language... these Negro statues were made in terms of their material, according to invented planes and proportions."  Matisse eventually bought one of the sculptures and brought it to Gertrude Stein's apartment.  He states, "I showed her the statue, then Picasso came by, and we chatted.  That was when Picasso became aware of African sculpture."  Matisse also tells us that a large mask that Derain purchased, "...became something of interest for the group of advanced painters."

"Everyone always talks about the influence of the Negroes on me", states Picasso in Discovery of African Art (also excerpted in "Primitivism and Twentieth-Century Art").  "The masks weren't like other kinds of sculpture. Not at all.  They were magical things... intercessors... against everything; against unknown threatening spirits... I understood what the purpose of the sculpture was for the Negroes."  From this and other interviews given by Picasso, it has become clear that his understanding of African art came from an artist's perspective.  As an artist himself, he intuitively understood the function of artistic tradition in African society and related that to his own role as an artist within his own culture.  In other words, the process of creating a work of art and the role of the artist in that process, and in society as a whole, are interconnected spiritually and are a shared human dynamic amongst artists throughout the world.  He further states, "If we give form to the spirits, we become independent of them.  The spirits, the unconscious emotion, it's the same thing.  I understood why I was a painter."  He then claims that Les Demoiselles d'Avignon came to him, "not at all because of the forms: but because it was my first canvas of exorcism..."

Picasso studio, Bateau-Lavoir studio, Bateau-Lavoir Picasso, Picasso studio 1908, Picasso African sculpture, Picasso African art, Picasso studio Bateau-Lavoir Paris 1908, Picasso Paris studio, Picasso Paris studio 1908, Picasso studio African sculpture, Picasso Primitivism
Picasso in his studio in the Bateau-Lavoir, Paris, 1908
What Picasso was referring to was the process: the physical act of creating a work of art coupled with the psychological act of giving ideas physical form. After all, he is known to have stated that "I paint forms as I think of them", and that the African sculptures he collected and displayed in his studio were witnesses to his art process, rather than models for it.  Perhaps this is why there is no particular African mask that could be said to be the source for the masks in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.    

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is considered to be Picasso's first foray into a new, more dynamic way of depicting not only form, but space as well. This departure from tradition, while inspired by African sculpture, was also influenced by his earlier studies of ancient Iberian sculpture and by the paintings of Paul Cézanne, and is ultimately considered to be the beginning of Picasso's invention, with fellow artist Georges Braque, of Cubism.    

Once we understand the circumstances under which Pablo Picasso encountered African works of art, and view the art he created during this phase of his career, such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, we can agree with De Vlaminck when he says: "It was Picasso who first understood the lessons one could learn from the sculptural conceptions of African and Oceanic art and progressively incorporated these into his painting."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Magical Moments Through The Lens

Takeō explores Vista House (built in 1917) at Crown Point, on the rim of the Columbia River Gorge:
Vista House, 1917, Crown Point, Columbia River, Oregon, Pacific Northwest

Takeō meets a dinosaur from prehistoric China at Portland's Oregon Museum Of Science And Industry (also known as OMSI):
Prehistoric Chinese dinosaur, Chinese dinosaur, dinosaur from China, Oregon Museum Of Science And Industry, OMSI, Portland Oregon, Portland Oregon OMSI, Portland Oregon Museum Of Science And Industry

Takeō and Maxfield watch the fish at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport:
Oregon Coast Aquarium, aquarium, aquatic fish, Newport Oregon Aqurium

All photos taken with either a Lumix L1 or a Lumix TZ-3 in 2008.  Click or tap on any picture to see larger images.

Friday, July 3, 2015

From Garden To Table: Blueberry Pie

blueberry pie, blueberries, garden, berries, pie baking, pie crust, pie filling, fresh blueberries, fresh berries, homemade, home made, made from scratch, do it yourself pie

Summer fruit pie making season has arrived here in Oregon, and I have found myself daydreaming about blueberry pie.  Sweetened berries inside a buttery pastry crust...  Yum! 

When the blueberry bushes in our small backyard garden began to flower, I was already thinking about the various ways in which we could eat them - besides just picking them straight from the bush, which of course is a delight in itself.  But the amount of berries that are ripe and plump and ready to be picked is what determines what can be done with them. A few days ago I picked enough fruit to make a pie, thus turning my daydream into reality.

flour, sugar, salt, butter, ice water, blueberries, making blueberry pie, pie crust ingredients, homemade pie, home made pie, do it yourself pie

The berry yield I obtained was just over a quart - maybe 5 cups in all.  It was enough to make the 10 inch pie you see in the top photo, plus another, smaller 6 inch pie (not shown).  

I know that most pie crust recipes call for unsalted butter and white pastry flour, but I never have anything but salted butter and whole wheat pastry flour around my kitchen.  So when using salted butter I go easy on the amount of added salt, and just use the flour on hand.  Using this type of pastry flour produces a crust that is a bit thicker and heartier than one made with white flour, and I think it tastes every bit as good.

So, here's the recipe I came up with:

Whole Wheat Pie Crust
makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust pies

2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks salted butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water (about 2 ice cubes in the water is sufficient)

Measure the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and sugar.  Mix together.  Cut the butter into small pieces, adding to the flour mixture.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it is pea size.  Add 4 T. of the ice water and use your hands to mix it together.  Mix thoroughly before adding any more water.  What you are looking for is the formation of a ball of dough that holds together well.  Once this is achieved, stop handling it and divide it in half.  Shape each half into a disk and place in plastic wrap.  Chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.  I prefer to prepare the dough the night before, then take it out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before 'pie time' in the morning.  (Coffee, anyone?)  

Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and rub some on your rolling pin. Shape, then roll 1 disk of dough into your desired circumference and place it into your pie plate.  The reason I like this recipe is that it makes a generous amount of crust.  Sometimes I like to make the 10 inch pie, then roll out the rest of the dough, place it on a baking sheet, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over it and bake it for an extra treat.

Once you have your dough shaped and placed into the bottom of your pie plate, put it in the refrigerator to keep the butter from melting too much, and make the filling:

Blueberry Pie Filling
yield 1 pie

1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 quart blueberries, washed and stems removed
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Have berries ready in a large bowl.  Add the flour, lemon juice, and your desired amount of sugar and mix until the flour is distributed evenly.  

Let sit while you shape, then roll out your second disk of pastry into a top crust.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Stir the berries one more time, then fill the prepared bottom pie shell.  Place the top pastry over it, trim the excess, and press and crimp the edges together. Prick the top crust with a fork.  At this point if you think you've overworked the dough or if it is too soft, you could place the whole pie into the refrigerator until the dough firms up a bit more. 

Mix the egg and milk together, and brush this mixture over the top crust - this step isn't necessary, but it does make the pie a nice color.  

Bake at 425 degrees for twenty minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting.

Now, it's time to enjoy your freshly baked summer fruit pie.  And since it is summer, what better place to share it than a nice cool shady spot in your own back yard?

Blueberry Pie, Fiestaware, Fiesta hack, Fiestaware turquoise pie baker, Fiestaware cobalt Hostess Bowl, Fiestaware lemongrass pie server, Fiestaware shamrock salad plate, Fiestaware peacock salad plate, flowers, fresh flowers, flowers on your table, table decorations, backyard, backyard eating, garden, blueberry bushes, Frigoverre, Bormioli Rocco
blueberries, garden, fresh blueberries, sunshine, blueberries in sunshine

What is your favorite summer pie you enjoy baking?   

© Under The Plum Blossom Tree | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig