Monday, March 31, 2008

Illustration friday - Homage

Its been ages since I took part in Illustration Friday but 'homage' was the first topic for ages that appealed to me.
I decided to do something of an homage to Leonardo da Vinci and my first thought was to make a Vitruvian man type thing based on a weevil monster from the BBC sci-fi series Torchwood.
I decided against that idea, although its somehow really appealing, so I might tackle it another time.

I wanted to continue with the da Vinci theme so I thought about the Mona Lisa [la Joconde in French].

The painting is now very dark due to oxidised paints and varnishes but there was probably a lot of ultramarine blue used in the original work, especially in the glazes of the background. Ultramarine was a very fashionable [and expensive] pigment derived from the gemstone lapis lazuli used by artists at the time, including da Vinci. I love the intense blue colour, hence the colour of my crocodile character's dress.

I have never managed to get the the Louvre, its on my to-do list, so i haven't actually seen the painting in real life . Until this weekend, I hadn't really studied the painting much at all so I've discovered quite a lot of new information about the Mona Lisa.

This is based on my idea of what the Mona Lisa would have been like if she had been an enigmatically smiling crocodile rather than Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a cloth merchant, so its definitely not intended to be slavish re-interpretation.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Almond blossom sky

On the way home from the supermarket on Saturday , I noticed a beautiful young tree laden with white blossom. [I think it was a sweet almond tree.]

Honey bees were loving the pollen -this is one coming in to land on a flower.

A honey bee is just visible burrowing into the blossom here. Its a pity the branches weren't lower, I had to use the zoom and hold the camera above my head to get these shots.

The blue sky was dappled with a thin cloud layer, almost like it had been dusted with icing sugar.

Something was nagging me about the unusual dappled blue sky and white blossom combination , but I didn't work out what it till later. It turned out that the photos were incredibly reminiscent of a Vincent Van Gogh painting called Branches with Almond Blossom [Amandelbloesem in Dutch]

Van Gogh painted the almond blossom in February 1890 while living in the south of France. The painting celebrates the coming of spring and the birth of his nephew also called Vincent. Ironically, Van Gogh's own life was near its end -he died a few months later that year.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Carnival dragons

The Nice carnival season has finished but i'm only now sorting through the photos .

The carnival isn't just a one day Mardi Gras event but lasts for 2 weeks and has a variety of events - day time and night-time processions , battle of the flowers and a grande finale when the Carnival King float is burned and a huge fireworks display lights up the Baie des Anges.

When our kids were small we used to mainly go to the carnival during the day time but the night time carnival is an impressive show with lit-up floats and luminous paints and make-up on the performers.

We visited the night carnival twice this year. The carnival processions are not exactly the same each time on each visit -the huge floats are the same but there are different groups of dancers, stilt walkers, musicians, folk lore groups and costumed performers etc so there is always plenty of new stuff to see.

This was one of the biggest floats -it was an immense articulated dragon creature- reminiscent of a dinosaur skeleton from the Natural History museum .
The head and tail and wings moved , the mouth opened and closed
Acrobatic people swung around on bungee straps from the wings and a magician figure dressed in black rode on the dragons head.
Photos don't do justice to this spectacular dragon

Dragon head breathing smoke.
The colourful ribs of the skeletal dragon. The ribs seemed to light up with different colours at different times.

This was a strange metal dragon vehicle piloted by 'humanoid creatures' like a cross between Mad Max renegades and Orcs. I didn't get any good photos of the 'humanoid creatures' ,unfortunately.

Dragon vehicle breathing fiery sparks. The huge dragon appearing out of the smoke and fire was a breathtaking sight.

This is a float designed by a British cartoonist called Jeremy Banx [cartoonist for the Financial Times].

The float called Neoconzilla and an interview with the cartoonist talking about his inspiration for the float is here

The Statue of Liberty is being swallowed up by the Neoconzilla monster and only the torch is visible.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Photo Friday- fuzzy

I couldn't decide what to post for fuzzy -I had hoped to find some processional caterpillars of the moth , Thaumetopoea pityocampa , [if i could have done so safely] but none of the pines I've seen had any caterpillars in evidence. There were some official notices warning people with small children and dogs to beware of the caterpillars since its currently processional caterpillar season.
The caterpillar hairs are a very potent irritant and can cause dermatitis, eye irritation and extreme allergic reactions in humans and animals who touch the insect bodies.

In the end I decided to post a macro photo of our cat, Gandalf's little pink nose and fuzzy cheeks.

This is the owner of the nose, blissfully asleep . I fiddled with the colour -his nose is really as pink as in the macro photo.