Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Monday, December 23, 2013

Folded Existence

by Joel Cooper
Recently during my wanderings on the internet, I became aware of one of the website My Modern Net's newest spotlighted articles titled Elaborate Geometric Masks Made from a Single Sheet of Paper which was posted by Noel Kat. The article features the beautiful origami works of Joel Cooper, Ms. Kat pointing out that no two masks that the artist creates is the same and tend to convey various emotions. Struck by the memorizing complexity of these paper creations, it brought to mind several pieces I've seen done by a couple of artists on deviantART.

Trilobite by Origami-Artist-Galen
A young artist from the mid western section of the United States, Shuki Kato does various types of origami but his main focus is intricately folded insects ranging from beetles to praying mantises. Perhaps one of his most interesting creations is that of a trilobite which, according to his description, used a single 21 inch square sheet of tracing paper and took him between 10 to 15 hours to complete.
Flickr: Shuki.Kato

Winged Koi by yuumei

yuumei.deviantart.com (United States)
Perhaps better known for her online comic series Knite and Fisheye Placebo along with some of her illustrations, digital artist Wenqing Yan does have some lovely origami winged koi in her gallery. In Origami Winged Koi Process, she shows step-by-step on a large scale how she creates her unique winged koi.
Facebook: YuumeiArt

Manilafolder.deviantart.com (United States) 
American paper artist, James Lucas, has a plethora of various forms in his gallery, from geometric shapes to insects and animals. In his bio, he explains that he has been doing origami for over 10 years. One of his most impressive pieces a King Cobra. In the description of the piece, he states:
King Cobra by Manilafolder
The model is 8 feet long, folded from a rectangle 8.5 inches wide by 22 feet long. It has 5500 scales (folded the tedious, time-consuming way) and thus took four months to fold. The model is free-standing, with no structural supports of any kind. Completed November 4, 2009, 12:40AM. (I don't ever want to fold it again).
Flickr: sin cynic 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coffee Review: Peet's Coffee – Garuda Blend

Even though the last month or so have been hectic and hair-pulling worthy of insane, it has provided me with so many stories and events to share with you all. So what is one of the things that has happened? Several generous friends donating coffee for me to check out with each specifically saying 'For your review', to which I thank them whole heartily. As you may know that normally I attempt to avoid doing main stream coffee products, mostly to give a spotlight to the lesser known brands and varieties, but I honestly have never had any of the Pete's Coffee brand items other then their tea.
As I opened the 16oz (454g) bag of Garuda Blend that was given to me, I took in the dark and perhaps slightly nutty aroma. I Though the bag said 'ground coffee', the ground reminded me of a fine instead of medium grind. My curiosity sparked, I wondered if it would be anything like the Tchibo GoldSelection Ground Coffee or Krönung. Or would it be more like Johnsons Irel? I just had to find out how it would taste. Once brewed, I noticed that it had many of the characteristics of a dark brew – rich dark amber color, robust fragrance.. I was however pleasantly surprised that unlike most dark brew coffees that this did not have a bitter flavor or aftertaste. Instead, the flavor was towards a medium roast, having a slight hint of fruit notes to it. It also had only a mild aftertaste but was not bitter..

For those who aren't familiar with Pete's Coffee & Tea, the first shop was opened in Berkeley, California back in 1966. Mostly a west coast coffee house chain, they do now offer their brand of ground coffee for purchase in their shops, grocery stores and from their website. So if you're looking for something different, perhaps this might be something you would be interested in checking out if you haven't already.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Meet the 6 Faeries

As some of you who follow me on Facebook have seen, I am hosting a small art faire at my residence on November 2nd & 3rd featuring my work along with the creations of 5 talented women. It seems only fitting that I give a bit of a story on what is going on.

It originally started off as as a suggestion I had made to my photographer friend Stacy that she could have a small get together to sell some of her work since she was trying to figure out a way to bring in a little more due to being in the process of moving. After a bit of bouncing ideas off of each other for a good week or so, we realized that if we were going to move forward with this idea that we would need a location. Unfortunately there wasn't a viable venue we could use without having to pay an extraordinary amount just to rent the space for a day or two. Frustration over the wall that was set in our way was met by much cussing and perhaps a bit of heads being smacked into keyboards. At that point I sent her a message saying “Screw it. We're having this at my place. Which weekend works for you?” I honestly have no idea why I took charge over the situation and was not prepared for what came next. In the end, Stacy and I brought in 4 other artists we were both friends with who were either up-and-coming area artists or had tiny businesses of their own that needed to have a little more recognition. Plans made, dates set, we quickly set into motion what needed to be done in the way of advertising in our area along with helping those within the group with figuring out what items they would need to help promote themselves, creating pieces for the event, and giving each other helpful advice. Within the past month, we have become quite close knit and are making plans for future events together. 

So if you're in the Sacramento area and wish to meet us while getting your Christmas shopping done, check out our Event Page on Facebook: The Six Faerie Faire

Dawn Star Wood Art
A self employed artist with my own home business, I have tried to keep on top of events within the local art community and building strong connections with fellow artists. Since graduating
'Gathering Good Luck' by Dawn Star Wood
college in 2005, I have been active within the local community while also communicating with artists not only elsewhere in the United States but abroad. At the moment I am one of the collective artists of Blue Moon Gallery in Sacramento. I have also been active in several smaller organizations whose focus range from bringing attention to local artists to drawing awareness to a small variety of issues, which includes being one of the founders and Social Media Administrator to the DeviantSAC Artist Collective. My most recent collaboration has been my first overseas one which was with the editorial assistant for the Salvation Army of Finland's magazine SotaHuuto, having allowing the use and publishing of my painting Virgin Mary in their Finnish & Swedish publications for their August 2012 issue. My second publication is Quixotic Magazine's first issue in March 2013.

"Urban Fairy" by Stacy J. Garrett 
Stacy J. Garrett Photography
Stacy J. Garrett is a freelance fine arts photographer whose focus on people photography has led her to an appreciation and admiration for all people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and more. She holds an Associate of Arts Degree in Fine Arts Photography from Sacramento City College, and is currently pursuing her Bachelors from the Academy of Art University of San Francisco. She has more than ten years of experience in her field and also serves as Creative Director for the B.R.A.V.E. Society, a statewide non-profit that is dedicated to the erasure of peer abuse and bully-driven suicides among youths.
Facebook: Stacy J. Garrett

The 3 Ravens Gifts
A small Sacramento based studio which started out as a combined effort and dream of 3 friends- Siara, Kyra and Nene. It has since blossomed into a circle of 'sisters' who share their experiences and creativity with each other. Now they offer a range of hand crafted jewelry, knitted and crocheted goods and fine art pieces.
Facebook: The 3 Ravens Gifts 

Abstract paintings & chainmail keychains by Kateedid Studios
Kateedid Studios
Sacramento based up-and-coming artist, Kathlynn Gonzales focuses on abstract paintings, nature photography along with crafts. With a background in early childhood education, her style is rather process oriented. “For me, the creation of art is more about the experience of creating than the finished product,” Kathlynn states in her bio. “I like to think of my works as intentional accidents.”
Facebook: Kateedid Studios

Kat's Kauldron
plush monsters by Kat's Kauldron
Kelleigh Mullen is the owner-creator of Kat's Kauldron, a small business that turns out handcrafted enjoyments ranging from stuffed animals to hair clips. Kelleigh studied Graphic Design and Photography at the Art Institute of San Francisco, but her love of sewing has been with her since she was six years old. Her list of skills include embroidery, knitting and resin casting. She has started making appearances at comic and anime conventions through the Greater Sacramento area. To keep up with her schedule, keep an eye on her official Facebook page.
Facebook: Kat's Kauldron 

earrings by Pop Garden
Pop Garden
Chey Dottavio is a Sacramento-based 3D artist and clay sculptor whose love of various pop culture led her to creating her first polymer clay creatures. Working from photos, fanart, and even her own mind, she brings to life the greatest detail in the smallest scale, ensuring that her clients can walk away wearing their favorite part of modern entertainment.
Etsy: Pop Garden 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Speak with a brush

There is just something about commercials from other countries that really draw me in. I may not understand the language or what they're saying (unless they've added English subtitles with them), but there is an amount of creativity and sometimes a level of beauty which is missing in much of the advertisements here in the United States. In most cases, commercials here force the brand names and logos in your face and suffer from a lack of individuality. Ever so often there are some memorable advertisements which push the boundaries of what people expect from product placement, but those occurrences are few and far between. Recently I've come across an advertisement for DOCOMO, a 3G mobile communications company based in Japan. With only a powerful use of black and white for the colors paired with the beautiful meanings within Japanese calligraphy, the company puts their point across with what their commitment is to their customers. It's perhaps the simplicity of the entire commercial and the fact I'm at least basically familiar with the art form itself that I enjoyed watching this and felt the need to share with you. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Artist's Reality

This past month had been busy and this month seems to be continuing on with the theme as people hurry about doing their Holiday shopping. As I work on running my little business and seeking out new customers, some recent events in my life which echo something that occurred the same time last year made me realize something and found myself needing to share my thoughts.

'Golden Prince' by Dawn Star Wood
For those who have been following me on Facebook are aware that last month I had paintings in 2 different art auctions, one for KVIE and the other for Pence Gallery. Having done a lot of advertising for both events to let folks know that my work would be available for bidding, I waited with bated breath to find out what the results would be. I was thrilled when I was called by KVIE staff who let me know that a local woman was the winning bidder, purchasing my piece Golden Prince for $400. With the information I received, I went ahead and sent her a letter thanking her for taking interest in my work and for supporting public broadcasting station. A week later after not having heard any results from Pence Gallery on the painting I submitted titled Lady of Shalott, I emailed my curator there to find out how their auction went only to be told that no one showed interest in my painting and that I could pick it up when I come back down to put some other work in for the month of November.

'Lady of Shalott' by Dawn Star Wood
Sitting at my desk staring at the email in utter shock and disappointment, I found myself remembering a conversation I had last year while at Blue Moon Gallery with a patron who was attending one of our monthly artist receptions. During the course of talking to the gentleman, I had found out that he was an art collector. It was then he asked me a puzzling question – If he was to purchase just one piece of art that evening, who's piece should he add to his collection? One of mine or that of Kennith Potter (a world renown artist who showed at the gallery and whom I had become friends with who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2013)? I answered truthfully saying it completely depended on what captured his attention more but also if he was after a piece by a more established artist, he would probably go for Ken's work. After seeming to think over my answer, he gave a nod and said that I was half right. He explained that he would purchase one of Ken's paintings not just because he had more notoriety then I did but because his initial investment could easily be matched plus more if he chose to sell the piece at a later date. The gentleman continued on saying that though he did enjoy my work and admired the amount of detail work I am able to accomplish in my pieces, purchasing one of my paintings would be indeed investing in an up-and-coming artist but there would be no guarantee on that investment since he would not know if I would still be creating art in the next 5 years.

Could it be that the only reason that my work never even received a bid on it was due to the fact that I am unknown in the Davis art scene? If that is the case, then how can I possibly get myself noticed if people ignore purchasing things they like because the name in the signature is someone they aren't familiar with? I have been lucky and persistent enough within the Greater Sacramento area to make my presence known to the point that I have been receiving new customers as of late because either they had seen work that I had done for friends and asked about me or have seen my work at Blue Moon Gallery, Sacramento Fine Arts, Elk Grove Fine Arts or KVIE.

Sadly I know that other up-and-coming artists are basically in the same position where only a handful of venues will even show their because the curators or owners of the locations were struck by their work that they're willing to take the chance on showing them. Even then there's not any guarantee on any sales unless a customer enjoyed their work enough to pay for that piece and make it their own. Why? It's because there is no notoriety but we can't receive that recognition if we can't make those sales, win the competitions that we enter, or get into the galleries other known artists are in. The majority of us will be too discouraged that we will end up giving up on our chosen fields that we put our blood, sweat and tears into. Of course there will be that small percentage that will push on and force ourselves to climb over the hurdles but we too get tired of the double standards that have been created not by fellow artists but the customers.

I know that the whole 'shopping by artist's name' scenario isn't true for some shoppers but it is a bit of a conundrum that I've both seen and experienced over the past years that I just couldn't stay silent about any longer. So I ask you, when purchasing art, which route do you go? Do you buy the piece that speaks to you that you really like or do you go for the piece by an artist who's made a name for themselves so that you can have bragging rights when people come to your home? 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Coffee Review: Jacobs© Krönung

While at my favorite German deli (the same one where I picked up Tchibo Gold Selection Ground Coffee), on a whim I wondered the isles and came across a particular green package with a coffee cup on it. Interest perked, I plucked the object off the shelf to discover that it was a 8.81oz (250g) package of Jacobs brand ground coffee called Krönung. The last time I had actually seen the coffee brand was in my small time spent living in Germany in my youth. Intrigued, I decided to go ahead and put it with some other items I was purchasing and brought it home.

As I look my newest acquisition, I did notice that there was something a little troubling with the design. Though the packaging does show you how to open it up, unfortunately there is now way to reseal it so you will need to put it into a resealable container to keep it fresh. When I did finally get it open, my senses were greeted by the rich robust notes of I'm sure is a dark roast coffee. I wasn't sure how the flavor would be until I brewed it but the aroma that was wafting from the bag was certainly eye opening. Brewing myself up a pot, I enjoyed the perfumed steam as it curled through the air making the anticipation for a cup of the amber liquid. Finally having a cup, I was surprised over the fact that the flavor was quite mild and not overpowering. It was as if I was drinking a medium roast Columbian coffee instead of the dark roast I believed it was when I initially smelt it when opening the back. It also doesn't have a bitter after taste like some coffees tend to have. For those more interested in international coffee, this is perhaps one that should be on you list to try.

It was quite interesting to read from the Mondelez International website the information they had for Jacobs, stating: 
The moving story of Jacobs coffee started in 1895 in Germany. This year, the 26-year-old Johann Jacobs opened a specialty coffee shop in Bremen and invented his own special brand of coffee.Today, Jacobs Coffee is one of the billion-dollar brands of Mondelez International and is sold throughout Europe. In countries such as Austria and Germany, it is the market leader for many years. In the form of Tassimo capsules, roasted and ground as whole beans, soluble coffee in pads and a flavored coffee blend sold Jacobs is still a benchmark in the industry for delicious coffee.
The main markets of Europe Mondelez region: Austria, Germany, Greece, Switzerland

For those interested in this popular German import, the 8.81oz package that I picked up was $8.99 which is relatively normal and actually rather reasonable.

The German Deli
5859 Auburn Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95841
(916) 349-9493

If you're not in the Greater Sacramento area, I discovered that you can order Jacobs brand Krönung ground coffee through Amazon including K-cups and larger packages of the coffee. Just go to Amazon.com and look under Krönung

Friday, August 30, 2013

Art Auctions of September

This is perhaps the first time in the past 6 years of business that I have had a month nearly completely booked with some sort of activity in the way of promoting my work and customer/client meetings. On the schedule for September is not just 1 but 2 different art auctions that I have work in!


Golden Prince by Dawn Star Wood
This year marks the 6th consecutive year that I have had one of my paintings in the annual KVIE Art Auction where 100% of all sales of donated work during the auction go to the local PBS/KVIE (Public Broadcasting Station). It helps them run the TV station along with producing educational programing such as NOVA , History Detectives, Healthy Body Healthy Mind, and American Masters. Last year was the first time I have ever been awarded a Juror's Choice Award, which was for my entry Sultan's Prize. This year's entry is Golden Prince. I wanted to do something along the same lines of last year's entry (having a bird representing an ancient culture) but instead of using the majestic peacock, I chose the little heard of Chinese GoldenPheasant. Amusingly enough, the first question I was asked when I was entering the piece was “Is this a real bird?” to which I couldn't help but chuckle and reply “Yes it is”.

Preview Gala: September 16th
Live Auction: September 20th - 22nd

Friday, Sept. 20 at 8am to 11pm
Sat., Sept. 21 at Noon-10pm
Sun., Sept. 22 at noon - 10pm

For more information about the auction: KVIE Art Auction 

KVIE Studios
2030 W. El Camino Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95833

Lady of Shalott by Dawn Star Wood


A bit of a surprise but recently I was asked by my curator at Pence Gallery if I would like to participate in their upcoming art auction. A little last minute but I said yes. To celebrate 38 years of being in the Davis community, Pence is holding an art auction featuring the works of local and regional artists. The piece that I decided to enter was my painting titled Lady of Shalott which was based off of a photo of my lovely friend, Denmark-based model Ida Mary Walker Larsen of mizzd-stock.deviantart.com. Part of the proceeds of the sales goes to the gallery while the rest goes to the artist themselves so go ahead and support area artists! 

Preview & Silent Bidding: Aug. 30th – Sept. 20th 11:30-5pm (Closed Mondays)
Auction Gala Event: Friday, Sept. 20th 6:30-9:30pm

For more information about the auction: Pence Gallery Art Auction

Pence Gallery
212 D Street
Davis, CA 95616

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Art of Gaming: Unmechanical

As I mentioned back in April in my Art of Gaming: Segment Update, I have decided to continue posting installments of Art of Gaming even if I haven't heard back from the developers whom I have written to. Once I do hear from them, then I will include their input as well. So please pardon me as this will be the first in perhaps a long line of installments that I will be posting that will not have any developer commentary until later.

Click to watch Unmechanical game trailer
Released back in August 2012, an Indie adventure-puzzle platformer by the name of Unmechanical was created by Talawa Games and published by Teotl Studios. This whimsical game caught my attention when I saw a video posted actually in July of that year by John “TotalBiscuit” Bain for his ongoing WTF Is.. series (a first impressions of upcoming games he plays through) titled WTF Is...: Unmechanical (WTF Am IDoing Edition)? Though puzzle platformers aren't his strong suit, I was not only entertained by his play-through but was captivated by the art style and music that helped create the world you navigate in. The page itself makes the description of "Set in a fantastic world of flesh, rock and steel, your journey to freedom requires you to solve a great variety of puzzling challenges, and while it’s easy to pick up and play, later challenges may prove very difficult indeed". You play as a small robot which you assist in navigating through this surreal landscape.

Treasure Planet © Walt Disney
When looking at the art style, right off my mind instantly went to Steampunk but there was something that made my mind wander and think that there was something more to it. Though having the heavy use of shadows and rich saturated colors, there seemed to be a life to the environment which is presented by the use of contrasting bright colors from glowing light bulbs and lasers. There's even a soft glow that emanates from some of the mushroom clusters that dot some of the locations in which you wander through. It brought to mind the various metropolises within our own world once the sun goes down. This of course made me think of the films Treasure Planet (2002), Titan A.E.(2000), and even The Matrix series (1999 - 2003). It makes me wonder what could possibly be the true reason behind there being a heart-like object of flesh and mechanical devices pumping in the background of some of the scenes. Is it a metaphor for ourselves living in this modern world, or something entirely different? 

The Brave Little Toaster © Walt Disney
 At first, the small robot that you play as made me think of The Brave Little Toaster (1987) but I decided to take a step back to contemplate a bit more on the character. It took me several moments to realize that the character also made me think of The Tin Woodsman and Tik-Tok from the Oz series written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). Not how the various films had portrayed them but how they were within the books. The reason for this train of thought that I had was for how they interacted within their own worlds and normally were on some sort of journey of discovery. It is perhaps also the association of the game being describes as having a 'world of flesh, rock and steel' that made me think of the pair. As you can see, both the game trailer and watching a partial play-through of Unmechanical got my mind swirling with images and memories of things that I've read or watched in my childhood. Of course I'm uncertain what actually inspired the folks at Talawa Studios but once I'm able to hear from them, I will be sure to add their insights on this as well.
Tik-Tok, Tin Woodman, & Captain Fy-ter

If you're interested in checking the game out, you can find it here:
store.steamppowered.com – Unmechanical $9.99
gog.com – Unmechanical $9.99

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beasts of Another Material

Be it made out of standard materials or scraps, the creation of animals in a sculptural form is always so interesting. Beautiful, whimsical and sometimes eerily surreal, these skillfully made creations bring to mind fantastical images of environments that could possibly be interacted in through the medium of video games. I have been noticing a small surge in such wonderful creations and would like to share with you some examples of what I mean.

Saracen the Goose by Bluelioness
Bluelioness.deviantart.com (United Kingdom)
A student of Modelmaking at Arts University Bournemouth in the United Kingdom, Imy Nagle has a collection of drawings in her gallery along with some images of some of her face painting escapades. The most attention catching images however is of the progress and final result of a 'mechanical' puppet she calls Saracen the Goose. In The Making of Saracen the Goose Puppet, Imy describes the process of how she went about creating the almost life sized bird.

Facebook: Illustrativ Imy 

Clockwork Scorpion No 7 by AMechanicalMind
Justin Gershenson-Gates, a craftsman in the United States specializing in making tiny creatures such as insects, other small invertebrates and his own creature concepts out of clock parts. Delicate and memorizing, Justin's work has quickly become popular among the deviantART community for his skill and patience for the pieces he makes. One personal favorites of mine is Creature which was inspired by a combination of fiddler crab, spiders, scorpions, grasshoppers, monkeys and several other creatures. Another personal favorite is Clockwork Scorpion No 7.

Rat 2 by Sean Avery
A proclaimed hobbiest out of Australia, Sean Avery is a writer-illustrator of children's picture books but also makes amazingly detailed sculptures of animals out of used CDs and DVDs. Colorful and adorable, each animal creation seems to have its own personality. Presented in such a way, Sean has been able to give his critters a sense of curiosity about them. Such an adorable tiny beast would be Rat 2.

Website: seanavery.com 
Fremantle Press: All Monkeys Love Bananas picture book by Sean E Avery

The Nest by 22zddr
Dariusz Zawadzki, an artist located in Poland who is equally talented in traditional and digital illustrations as he is in metal sculptures. Though his paintings are beautifully surreal, seeming to lean towards more dark fantasy imagery, what caught my attention and brought me to his gallery was his sculpture The Nest. This portrayal of an other-worldly bird was made in such a way that its mechanical form was balanced with an organic and very animalistic pose. Sparking curiosity of what possible setting such a creature would exist in, it also will send a chill down the viewer's spine when considering the possibilities of its purpose.

Scrap Metal Fishy of Doom by Devin Francisco
Specializing in fan art illustrations, American artist Devin Francisco's gallery is filled with beautifully dark illustrations. However, his sculptures out of scrap metal seems to be rather attention catching. One such piece has the oddly whimsical name of Scrap Metal Fishy of Doom

Saturday, July 13, 2013

When questions are asked

There are times when I have questions and hope for a simple answer when I finally ask them. Normally I'm able to find the answer to them with my own research or by simply poking around the internet. Then there are times where I will have to contact a reliable source but there are times that backfires. One such incident happened a few years back when I was looking for native plants and flowers of India and which of their deities was associated with what. To me it was a relatively simple question but I just couldn't find the answer online. So what was my next step? I contacted the Smithsonian Institute by phone and asked. You would think that a collective of some of the most knowledgeable minds in the fields of religious iconography, art, and botany would know what in the world I was talking about. Nope! After almost an hour and a half of being bounced between 3 different departments, no one knew what I was trying to ask. Normally people would give up by this point but I went a different route and contacted the Central National Herbarium, Botanical Survey of India by email instead. Within 15 minutes I ended up with a response from one of the directors of the gardens with the exact information I was looking for, to which I was very thankful for since I wanted the information for some future projects (which sadly I haven't had a chance to get to as of yet but still am planning on getting them done).

This perhaps might give you some insight into the lengths I go to in order to do research on things I'm interested in. Where am I going with this, you might be asking yourselves. Back in November 2012, I was wondering if Disney was going to continue with a movie series that so far only had 2 installments as of yet. What would be I talking about? Fantasia (1940) and Fantasia 2000 (1999) which, to me, were an amazing collaboration between classical pieces of music and the talents of artists interpreting them into a visual form. Looking online, I couldn't find a thing so wrote a letter to the Disney Studios with the following question:

To whom it may concern,

I had attempted to find a way to send my inquiry by email through your website but unfortunately, I was directed towards the FAQ page where I did not find the answer to my question so I thought it best to contact you by mail. As an artist, I have always appreciated many of the films that the Walt Disney Studios has created since the 1940s to present. Perhaps my favorites is Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 due to the perfect marriage of musical masterpieces and the skillful storytelling of your animators. I have been waiting patiently for any word on if there would be a third installment to the Fantasia family but I have yet to find any news on such an endeavor. Maybe I missed the news but I was curious if there was on in the making or planned for the future? I do thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you on this subject matter.

I patiently waited but after several months of not having any response, I decided that I would write to them again with the thought that perhaps the first letter was lost in the mail or was lost in someone's office trash can. So in February I sent a second letter stating that I did send the first one last year, restated the question and thanked them again for taking the time to get back to me. Here it is 2 weeks into July and have yet to hear anything. Think that this will be one of those moments that I will not be finding the answer any time soon unless one of my readers is some how connected with the studio. Perhaps I'm being silly for contacting such a giant with such a small question. What is your opinion on the matter?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Coffee Review: CAcafe – Almond Coffee

As is how many of these happen, this installment is brought to you by my wanderings in one of the local grocery stores. While in the refrigerated section, my boyfriend spotted something and brings over a small 9.5 floz (281 ml) bottle of CAcafe brand Almond Coffee. We both agreed that it would be interesting to try out and honestly I had the thought of “Well Almond milk is usually not that bad. Perhaps it will add an interesting and refreshing flavor to the coffee”.

As stated on the side of the bottle, I shook that bottle like my life depended on it. Occasionally I looked at the clear bottom to see a couple of lumps that were refusing to get into the mix. Back to the shaking as I wonder what on earth this strange mixture was going to taste like. Finally after a good couple of minutes I popped the bottle open and took a sniff, finding that the beverage had a blend of a standard coffee aroma mixed with a strong nuttiness. Gingerly I took a sip, not sure what to expect and ended up discovering that my face could contort to a coffee drink. The sweetness of cane sugar and sultry notes of Columbian coffee was rudely interrupted by the nuttiness of almond. Keeping in mind that the company makes sure that there was no dairy, lactose, soy, or cholesterol in their product so that those with allergies or on special diets could drink it but I was finding the end result of their concoction too sweet and way too nutty for my liking.

Checking out the CAcafe website, it would seem that they are a California based company which is aiming to provide all-natural products made with either coconut or almond milk. They offer a variety of coffee and tea beverages and also allow customers to order online. For those out there who are unable to consume dairy, this line of products might be a possibility for you but for my personal tastes, I think that I will avoid having another try. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Of Metal and Stone

Perhaps it is a bit of an odd observation on my part but I have been noticing an increasing trend among various jewelry artisans on deviantART. With so many skilled craftsmen and women showing off their skills on the website, perhaps it's just me but I've been seeing much more in the way of wire wrapped jewelry items. The process is just as it sounds: the artisan uses a stone or jewel as either the focal point or accent of the piece in question which is an intricate curling of either copper or silver wire. Wandering around the site, I found some amazing examples of wire wrapping so that you can see what I mean.

"Purple Poison" by IMNIUM
A jewelry designer from Croatia, Ivona's gallery is filled with beautiful intricate works made mostly of silver wire and semi-precious gemstones. In the description to a pair of silver earrings she had given the name of Purple Poison, she lists off that she used black, red and purple spinel, rhodolite garnet, amethyst, labradorite, smoky quartz and pink tourmaline to be the colorful accents.

"Queen of the Night" by Magdalena Marszalik

Perhaps one of the more intricate necklaces that I've seen using this particular method, Queen of the night is an amazing work in itself not only for the emmense effort that went into it but it's size. In one of the various photos that is on Magdalena's Facebook page, she show's one with the pendant in her hand and it covers her entire palm.

"Cornflowers" by Joanna Watracz

Cornflowers is a lovely set of earrings made of Sterling and fine silver with marquise cobale blue quartz. Though simplistic in shape, Joanna's wire weaving techniques remind me of some of the impressive illuminated manuscripts I've had the joy of looking at.

"Ruby and Copper" by Black Currant Jewelry
Irina of Black Current Jewelry states in the description of her piece Ruby and Copper:
“I was commissioned to set ruby in copper wire. I've never before set in wire such a small stone without hole. It would by quite clumsy if I had to used round wire, but fortunately I made recently this flat wire. I flattened round wire with rolling mill and made it soft with torch. When it gets bent it hardens again.”

"BlueAntiquity Leaf Labradorite" by Nambroth
Nambroth.deviantart.com (United States)
Jennifer's jewelry is a wonderful example of how wire wrapping can be both simple and elegant at the same time. Her piece BlueAntiquity Leaf Labradorite is perhaps one of her most lovely pieces, the graceful curves of the wiring marrying perfectly to the shape and lines of the stone.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A common influence... maybe: Eugène Louis Boudin

While wandering the website for the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, California, what caught my eye was one of their current exhibits being titled Impressionists on the Water. The show itself started June 1st and is supposed to run until October 13th and is supposed to feature water themed works by artists who were well known during the Impressionistic movement and includes work from Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and several others. One name however caught my eye was Eugène Louis Boudin due to the fact that I am familiar with his work and have had him come up in my studies on various occasions when I was in college.

"Deauville le Bassin" by Eugène Louis Boudin
French landscape painter Eugène Louis Boudin (1824-1898) was one of the first to paint outdoors (en plein air). Specializing in marine themed pieces, he was heavily influenced by the Dutch masters of the 17th century. With his growing popularity after making connections within first the French art circles, he was able to travel to Belgium, the Netherlands and southern France. Mr. Boudin did win several awards during his career and was made a knight of the Legion d'honneur.

With that, it made me wonder if I could find any works that reminded me of Boudin's work so I hunted around deviantART. It did take a bit of searching before I found 5 artists to ask my question:

"I was looking through your work and was wondering if your seascape related pieces were inspired perhaps by the French landscape artist Eugène Louis Boudin."

"Seascape with Icebergs" by Dragarta
Dragarta.deviantart.com (Czech Republic)
A traditional artist located in the Czech Republic, Lucie Culková has a wonderful array of fantasy inspired works mostly focusing on dragons and other such mystical creatures. Even with this, I was surprised when I located a special gem she had titled as Seascape with icebergs hidden in her gallery. Though in the description, she states that her inspiration was William Bradford (1823-1892), I couldn't help but fine myself noticing the similarities between the two. It is perhaps due to the fact Bradford was part of the Hudson River School which encouraged plein air painting which was becoming popular in the United States at the time after its popularity in Europe spread with the artists traveling to seek out new subject matters. 

“Hey! Nope, none of them is I think. It's always written in the description if I am inspired by an artist. Most of my seascapes are referenced photos.”

"Seascape" by MountainInspirations

Traditional artist living in the United States, Lisa works mostly with pastels on sanded paper. Soft and inviting, her landscapes have very much an impressionistic feel to them which draws the viewer in.

“My inspiration comes from the reference photo and what kind of mood I'm in when I'm painting. I'm so flattered to be compared to one of the masters! Thank you!”

"Long Island Waves" Wulff-Arts
Wulff-Arts.deviantart.com (United States)
Working in a wide range of traditional mediums such as pastels and oils, US artist Joan Wulff's work is as varied- depicting landscapes, animals and imagined Victorian scenes.

“No, I was only inspired by myself. I don't know who Eugene Louis Boudin is, but I will look him up.”

There were 2 other artists that have yet to respond but it might be due to their busy schedules or the problem of a language barrier. So as always, I shall present them and let you decide if they were influenced in someway by Eugène Louis Boudin or not.
"148" by StudioUndertheMoon

Justyna Anna Kopania, traditional artist out of Poland, has her gallery filled with beautiful impressionistic oil paintings. With each one, she uses the thickness and texture of the paint to add to the piece making the work almost 3 dimensional. Though she has various subject matters, a topic she seems to keep coming back to are water/seascapes with fishing vessels. 

An oil painter from Israel, Roberto Simeroni's work is a beautiful nod to the classic works of the 19th century.
"Ship in a Storm" Roberto Simeroni
Writer's Note: There is a part of me that does wonder if Roberto's work that he has posted is his own (mimicing pieces by some of the masters) or altered/cropped pieces of well known works that are in museums. Of course I have no proof to go either way so with that, I will also leave it up to you to take a look of things. 

For those who are interested in visiting the Legion of Honor if you're going to be in San Francisco at some point between now and October and wanting to see the show: 

Legion of Honor
Lincoln Park at 100 34th Avenue (at Clement Street) 
San Francisco, California

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 9:30am - 5:15pm
Monday - closed 

General Admission: 
Adults $10
Seniors 65+ $7
Youths 13-17 $6 
College Students with valid ID $6

Children 12 and Under Free

Writer's Note: For anyone who is interested in actually viewing the Impressionists on the Water show, please be warned that due to the names and the value of the collection of pieces that the admission to see it is quite a bit more then the General Admission and is as follows:
Adults $20
Seniors $17
Students with current ID $16
Youths 6-10 $10