Roman (Romin’) Holiday

If you have read my (much) older posts, you will know that we enjoy travel and with that, photography to record our traveling.  In the spring of 2016 our family had a truly awesome Vacay, visiting Wales, London, Germany, and Rome.  Where countries are listed, we visited different towns and cities.  It was a glorious time to trundle around together, and the weather in Europe is so much more inviting in March than it is in Newfoundland, where we are still shrouded in snow and cold at that time of the year.

Rome was the one place on the itinerary that we had never seen, and so was an amazing experience.  We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast that was very close to everything, Gialel Bed & Breakfast.  I would recommend it to anyone!  And contact them through their website.  They say they will beat the booking website prices.  Our second piece of advice is use the Hop on Hop off Bus Tours.  We suggest the red bus, there are all sorts of them (we took one from a different company).  With a 48 hour pass we were able to spend 2 days visiting all the major sights without concern about how we were going to get around.  We only had to be aware of when the last bus for the day left the stop we were at.  It was great.

A few shots from the Vacay in Roma.

Everywhere you looked there were ruins, either preserved, built into new buildings or standing sentinel on their own.  And of course, there were people everywhere!  And we weren’t there in tourist high season.

Art StoreWe came across this marvelous art store.  This only shows you one side of it, but the other half of the building was full of papers and pigment powders and brushes!!  Oh so beautiful.

DaVinci museumThe Da Vinci Museum was full of reproductions of his inventions, and his journals and notebooks.

Fascinating to see his ingenuity.

 

 

 

ParkingAlso ingenious was the parking.  This isn’t the only example we saw of creative parking.  Creative driving was also very much in evidence.

 

Below are just a few more shots of this amazingly picturesque city.

And what led me to tell you about last year’s holiday?  Well, this did.  This is Vicolo Della Torre, Trastevere.  This laneway in the old quarter of Rome, across the river, arrested me as I passed.  Laundry hung in the alley, sun beamed in, and even this early in the season shutters and windows were open and plants were beginning to leaf.  I wonder which tower the Torre references?

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I loved the strong perspective and sharp contrasts, and hope I was able to do it justice.

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Memor-y-ial

It’s the end of March, and it came in like a lamb, so you know how it is going out.  The next 4 days promise high winds, rain, freezing rain, snow and sleet.  I don’t think I’ll leave the house if I can avoid it. Storm chips I’ve laid in a stock of “storm chips” for hubby.   That’s become a new tradition in Newfoundland.  For some reason we’ve forgotten that we get snow regularly into mid May and sometimes into June.  Urbanization has made us soft.

But I digress.  The impending arrival of April makes me think of spring, and milder weather, and days when going out and about is fun and you don’t have to wear 4 layers of clothing and boots so heavy you’ll drown in a pothole.  If you go back in my blog posts you’ll find I leave my cocoon in April, take my camera and explore.  Look What the Sun Brought Out! was one such, and you’ll see a photo of a statue on a huge granite boulder, spreading it’s wings and reaching to the sky.  In January I decided it was a good subject for a painting, and Icarus of Bay Bulls appeared under my brush.  Icarus of Bay Bulls

As one does these days, I posted the finished painting on a social media site.  Imagine my surprise when one of my Book Club friends asked, “Did you know that this memorial was erected to my father-in-law?”  I was floored.  We forget how small this province really is.

The memorial was cast by sculptor, Luben Boykov , in memory of Captain Patrick J. Coady and his crew, who were lost at sea in 1994.  The sculpture sits on one of a grouping of 5 large rocks that family and friends brought, by boat, from Captain Coady’s place of birth (Bar Haven), and then dug into ground to stand their guard.

My friend and her family had been very much moved by the painting, and so I was happy to be able to gift it to her.  (But I did have it professionally scanned, should I want a copy.  Or I may paint it again some day.)

Stories or Statements

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Waiting to Launch – one of the first pieces I painted from a photo I took.

I am not an accomplished artist, nor am I seeking renown.  This will not be a career for me.  This art exploration I am on is following its own meandering path, and a year and a half ago, the path diverged from decorative painting, to exploring subjects in more detail.

You seek, and get a lot of advice when you start this.  Youtube has been a font of tutorials, but I don’t want to slavishly copy them (as they advise you not to) because that is not my work.

The biggest and best advice – “You learn by doing.”  But after that it gets confusing.  Copy old masters; Don’t copy old masters; Paint from reference photos; Don’t paint from reference photos; It’s ok to trace  your reference sketch/photo; It’s not ok to trace  your reference sketch/photo.  You get the picture.

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Frozen Ghost – combines three of my photos to tell a story.

Some of my favourite pieces come from photos I have taken.  Notice I say, “come from”.  I consider it my right to modify as necessary, or not.  And being a new painter, each time I tackle a photo, there is a challenge to present something on the support that I have not done before.  Each time, I am learning something that I can use in future paintings.  But when I showed some of my pieces to an artist and art teacher, who has had a decades long career and whom I respect, I was told that my work, while nice, lacked emotion.  That has niggled in my heart for months now.  There are all kinds of criticisms that I would have expected (on brushwork or perspective, colour or composition), but not that one.  And I have a problem with it.

Each painting I do from my photos evokes a memory for me, and/or tells a story.  Obviously, someone else will lack the frame of reference for the story, but I hope that the viewer can get some sense of it.  Perhaps one day I will evolve to the point of making strong statements with a brush, but at the moment I am giving more of a recitation.  And that is OK.

So if you are struggling with what should be the “right” way to paint – stop struggling.

If it speaks to you, that is the most important thing as you grow.  And try things outside your comfort zone, but not all the time.  Remember, you should be enjoying yourself.

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First Freeze – an ATC I did from my photo of the pond where I live.  The challenge was to learn how to do ice.  But the story is of a particularly beautiful sunset in the place I grew up.  A moment in time that evokes the peace of this place when I was a child.  In this light you don’t see a lot of the changes “progress” has wrought.

 

Inspired by a Visitor

I didn’t expect to post today.crabsi

 
This is a surprise but I was inspired by nature, and by a visitor to my blog.  Yesterday, when I was coming home from the grocery store, an unusual guest was inspecting my peony.  SHE is a Goldenrod Crab Spider and has a fascinating life history.  Most particularly, she doesn’t spin webs, but is a hunter.  She sits in wait and grabs her insect prey with those large forelegs.  And as if that’s not badass enough; she can CHANGE COLOUR.

 

 

 

Today, when I went out to check on her:  Voila!

crabspiderNow she’s white, and she has prey!!  Not exactly small fry either.

I apologize to the arachnophobes

but you have to admit she is cool!

 

 

“But what does this have to do with creativity,” you say?  Well, one of the nice people to come and visit my recent incarnation of this blog is Laura, Create Art Every Day.  You have to drop by and see her daily explorations.  This month it is particularly watercolour art.  I am so trepidatious over watercolour as it appears to be so unforgiving.  But it is also extremely tempting because of its portability and the applications for journaling.  Laura encouraged me to check out Cathy Johnson as further inspiration.  Great lady who is so good at instruction and is a fabulous art journalist.  The end result was that I pulled out my limited watercolour equipment and sat on my front step to “play.”

The result is an ATC of my Insect Interloper.  20160720_185302 Certainly not the detail I would expect of myself with acrylics (because you can paint over stuff), but she’s captured.  The petals were done with a red, a purple and a black watercolour pencil.  The spider is yellow and red, toned with a little orange and black.  These are my materials.

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Yes, those are really Crayola watercolour pencils.  (I told you I don’t do watercolour. )  The water brushes were purchased from Curry’s, on a whim.  The black handled brush I’ve had for 37 years.  I bought it to clean my contact lenses and used it for that for 10 years.  The water cup is from the Dollar Store.  As long as you make sure you’ve opened it all the way, it doesn’t leak.

I had fun today.  Thank you Laura.

And the rest of you, get out there and enjoy.

 

Römischer Weg

Today we visited a very special German city, Trier.  My first introduction to the town was when I was a teenager.  Germany had not yet realized the aesthetic value of the Roman ruins that were being excavated and you could walk through the rubble of the archaeologists’ finds.  It wasn’t pretty…you didn’t pay entry fees…it hadn’t become a tourist attraction.  20 years later I brought my husband to experience the city.  The streets were no longer torn up, and the ruins were better groomed, but it was still more of a pilgrimage than a sightseeing tour.  We ran from Porta Nigra to Basilika in the rain…without a tour map, depending on the helpfulness of strangers in the street to direct us.  Today, about 15 years later, there are entry fees for everything, tour booklets in multiple languages, and a museum with multiple guards per floor.  2000 year old structures have weathered time, weather, siege and world war.  Yet among the pockmarked stones thousands of thoughtless people have scrawled names, initials, symbols, showing no respect for the global treasures they are defacing.   If you ever find yourself in the Mosel Valley, make your way to the city that was once on par with Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople.

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Porta Nigra - One of 4 gates on the 6.5 km long city wall. The only one still standing.

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View up the 3 levels from inside.

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Along the corridors defenders could repel any attack.

After the Romans had left the city, the Porta Nigra was reincarnated as a church; rebuilt on at least two occasions.  Today it has been returned to a more original state, although the rounded end that would have been the nave of the church remains.

Through the windows of the Porta you can see the countryside, the city, and the Dom.

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Across the river

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The Dom with the Liebfrauen Kirche next to it.

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View into the city from the 3rd level of the Porta. I wonder what a centurion would think to see this?

Walking into the Altstadt we arrived first at the Dom (cathedral). This structure, started 1000 years ago, lies on the foundations of Roman buildings dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries (anno domini). Beautifully appointed inside, with vaulted and carved ceilings and imposing memorials and altars, the Dom houses the Shroud of Turin, which is exposed for view only about every 10 years. Whatever your beliefs, it is an impressive and solemn monument. The Dom museum houses codex & book covers from the early middle ages, carvings from even earlier, and reliquaries from holy men and women, including St. Peter and St. Andrew. Next door is the Liebfrauen Kirche, completely different in style – light and airy.

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Reliquary of the chains of St. Peter

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Reliquary of the sandal of St. Andrew.

Also now used as a church, the Imperial Palace, built by Constantius, and later taken over by Constantine the Great is now the Protestant Basilika. The giant audience hall has had numerous incarnations; as a royal residence, a bishop’s residence, a fortress,
and a courtyard.

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Massive in size, the rubble of centuries has raised the level of the ground around the Basilika.

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The inside space is immense. Can you imagine walking up its length to bring your complaint to Constantine?


Hygiene was of great importance in Roman times, and Constantine had a great plan for the Imperial Baths. While it never came to fruition, most of the structure was completed and then repurposed. There were aqueducts and heating mechanisms, and underground hallways for servants.
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This is only about a third of the structure, which continues off to the right, and is still being excavated.

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A sense of the height. Courses of varying coloured stones were laid, to decorate the building.


That brings us to the Amphitheatre. The location for animal fights, gladiators and executions, the amphitheatre formed part of the city wall, and its entrance was one of the gates.
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This picture, taken from the upper level of seats, gives a sense of how large the arena is.


OK…so I have a new favourite word. The entrances into the seats were called vormitoria
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Love the funnel shape of the Vormitoria...pour them in...vomit them out!

Here it is…the required panorama. What the Christian saw before the lion was upon him.

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Here kitty, kitty.


Below the arena floor are a series of rooms and drains that housed animals and the condemned, and from which each could be brought into the center.
And if you are around Trier in the summer time, the gladiators still compete in the Amphitheatre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Sounds like a rollicking good time to me.

Schritt in Meiner Fergangenheit

So you may have noticed that there has been nothing from me for a while.  Or, what is more likely, your lives have been so busy, and My Musings are such a recent part of it, that my absence hasn’t impinged on your consciousness yet.  I’ve had little time to follow the WordPress world either. 
The title of this piece probably gave a few hints.  My heritage is German, and we are visiting family, and taking the time to see some places special in my memory.  I’ve been visiting here since I was a small child.  Slowly my German family has winnowed down to 3 aunts and a handfull of more distant relations and I don’t know that I will be coming here for much longer. 
We are Rheinisch…so people of song, humour, and more than a little good wine.  Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit; and here are a few shots from my tablet. Not the greatest quality, but a good record, none-the-less.

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Bismark Tower at Waldeck bei Ingelheim

The attraction here isn’t the tower, as impressive as it is, but the 4 tigers at the neighbouring Pension and Gaststaette, 2 of which were bred and raised here. 

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Join me in the pool?

There are rabbits and finches and peacocks also, and sometimes goats.
The first part of the trip was spent near Mainz, so you need a shot of the river, and of the Markt at the Dom.  If you ever go, be sure to visit the Dom Cafe for wonderful kuchen.  And the fleischwurst is good too.

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Rheinallee


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Markt am Dom

Took some time to visit the Frankfurt Zoo too.  The remarkable thing about this zoo is not really its animal collection, but the success it has had with its various breeding programs and that it sits deep in the heart of a big city, yet is accessible and quiet.

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Johnny, Johnny, John come along, come along. There are monkeys in the garden sitting in the sun.


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Are you lookin' at me?


Sometimes art can be found in the most unexpected places. Like the dining table at my aunt’s seniors home.
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Wonderful Watermelon

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Wonderful from all sides.

And then it was time to follow the Rhein north to my parents’ home town. (Yes, I know it’s Rhine in English. That’s only for you uninitiated.) So if you are driving along the Rhein there must be castles.

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Die Pfaltz.


Don’t try passing here without paying toll in the Middle Ages!
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Imposing!


Can you imagine the hours of sweat and blood that went into constructing one of these fortresses?

And there must be vineyards!

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Terasses of wine vines along the Rhine.

So now we’ve reached the favourite home of Kaiserin Augusta and Kaiser Wilhelm. The Confluenza of two most important rivers, once ruled by the Roman Empire, and a city full of surprises. I’ll leave you with a few last pictures and hope you’ll visit again for another installment.

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Kaiser Wilhelm am Deutsches Eck


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Panorama of the Schloss.


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Wobble Wall

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Careful!!! He spits!

Small Pleasures

For so many of you, the spring has advanced to summer.  I sit here looking out at 4 degree Celsius, and the threat of ice pellets and snow.  That after a week or more of wonderful weather that has popped the buds and hatched the flies.  Little stalwart flowers have made our spring bearable.  We must be grateful for small pleasures.

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 Sorry I’ve not much time to tell a story today.