Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Guinea Pigs: Rufus and Felix

Finally got some pictures of Felix and Rufus eating at the kitchen table. No they don't eat together with us at the dinner table! Sorry, these guys are cute, but not too smart. Felix the shorthaired one - at one point obviously nervous - was nuzzling into Rufus's long hair to hide his face. That's their typical plan, if scared hide your head, never mind your huge butt sticking out like a birthday cake with burning candles set in the middle of the kitchen table!

Symbol Bird

A couple of months ago I finished this bird, holding on to two colors above the water. I got a couple things working here which I'm happy about: 1) the color sticks are symbolic, I mean there are no blue and red reeds like this in the world, but they still work as real reeds which the bird is hanging on to (actually he's kind of 'stirring' the reeds). 2) the water ringlets at the bottom of the picture serve to make a bottom or ground to the painting although the background is one entire continuous color; without the ringlets the bird and color sticks would be floating in space a bit too much. 3) the bird is realistically painted - based on a drawing I made at the Naturhistorischemuseum - and it works well enough against the plain abstract background. I want to make more paintings in this space between realism and an abstract/symbolic space.

Flower Drawings

I started some pencil drawings of flowers around the house. I really enjoyed the drawings. There is a nice balance between capturing the 'real' image and making something up that works for the drawing itself. The flower petals are a case where describing the exact image of them is ridiculously detailed, therefore a shorthand is desperately called for. Drawing them I felt a nice balance between observation and making interesting marks on the paper.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Erste Schultag für Pascal!

Last week was Pascal's first week in school. Not kindergarten, school. His school is right around the corner from us, which is nice. The picture is taken outside our apartment on the way to his school. Pascal did well his first week. He didn't say much, but I guess that's good. On Wednesday he did however report that his school day was bad. I asked him why. "Someone hit me." A boy? "Yes." What's his name? "I don't know." And then Pascal ran happily down the hallway to play in his room. Hmmm. I guess it wasn't actually that big a deal? Anyways, Pascal does seem generally happy about school, for instance he said he was happy that he can go from room to room at will (at least in Hort, his after school care), unlike kindergarten where he always had to go together with the group.

It was a big first week, and Pascal is quickly filling in his new shoes as Schulkind!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Scientific Wall Mural

The finished mural. Sorry about the poor lighting.

Details of the finished mural.

Copy of Durer's Hase.

An early stage. Not sure what to draw in next. The circles and square forms though give the mural some structure and direction to help me determine what comes next.

They were remodeling the labs where I work. I was volunteered to draw a mural. I ended up picking a large wall next to the laboratory entrance. I made a number of pencil sketches of the mural, but once faced with the real wall, I made up a lot of new images straight on the wall.

The mural is done with charcoal. The theme of the mural is scientific equipment and ideas we regularly use in the development lab, mixed with general themes from Austria and Vienna. So the Durer Rabbit in the bottom left corner, because Durer was an artist keenly interested in understanding the natural world, and his drawing is here in Vienna. In the upper left corner is a semi-abstract landscape of mountains and forest, because they are important in Austria. The big drawing of Stephansdom was really fun, albeit difficult because of the weird perspective. Above Stephansdom in binary code is the quote from Einstein "When the solution is simple, god is answering".

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vespas and Italy

There is a reason Vespas are so popular in Italy. Many towns still have their medieval street plan intact. First came the carriages, and they widened, famously for instance, the roads in Paris to help the carriage traffic; then of course came the car. Vienna still has its tight cobblestone streets, designed for the carriage and not the automobile. Italy seems to have somehow avoided the modernization project for carriages, so the streets can be pathetically narrow. Hence the Vespa to zip around town. Practical really.

The photos are of Pascal in front of the cathedral in Sienna. BTW the cathedral is really a wedding cake sort of building. The ornamentation is great, but maybe a little thick, just like on a cake, the frosting looks good, but maybe it's just a little bit too much of a good thing. Funny the Italians are usually so more restraint in their architecture, as compared to the baroque stuff typical in Wien.

Tessa turned 16!!

Tessa's sixteenth birthday came during our Tuscany vacation. The picture above we shot just before her birthday. Only now at home while reviewing our vacation pictures did I realize the house number in the picture. 15!! So Tessa is at 15 knocking on the door to get to 16!! Get it?


Pascal resting after his little parkour run around the plaza.

So good at acting bored and crazy.

Examining the surf. We actually surfed that little air mattress Tessa is holding.

Pascal getting on people's nerves!

Pascal getting on people's nerves.....

Sienna. They were getting ready for a horse race the next week. The flags are for each of the 14 provinces? which enter the horse race. The race track we saw, and it is crazy! It goes right around the main plaza, and everything is stone and narrow. Dangerous! I'm sure a thrill to watch.

Typical hill towns in the early evening.

Tessa in Pisa.

Hamming it up to match the graffiti.

We vacationed in Tuscany this summer. Great food, beautiful hill towns and landscape, and the aqua green mediterranean sea. We had a house in the hills about 20 minutes by car from Piombino, the port city close to the island of Elba. Our house was all the way at the top of a mountain up a very bumpy dirt road. I got pretty good driving the road - by the middle of the week I was pulling the parking brake to get the back end of the car to slide during a turn. Anika was scared the first 5 times, but then she got into the trill. I only kind of crashed once a little bit into a thorny bush, but still on the road!

Every other day we went to the beach. Our favorite beach was on the other side of a pine forest. For a couple of days there was even some wind swell big enough to body surf. The water was waist deep and warm for maybe 100 meters. So pretty mellow beach. Just off the beach was a outdoor restaurant which had great panini, pasta's, etc. The italians just know how to eat! The restaurant also played great beach music - mostly a mix of reggae music. Very chill.

The little hill towns in Tuscany are very beautiful. They are real medieval cities, stuck on a hill top with winding passages through the town. And although the towns a clearly oriented to tourism real people live in the towns. In America I often heard the story about someone visiting their italian grandmother in the village of their parents. Well these are the towns the grandmothers come from. Really little has changed in these towns for 100s of years. In general the towns were in superb shape, clean and well maintained. Not at all a bad life these grandmothers lead!

We took some trips around Tuscany and visited Pisa and Sienna. Pisa is well worth the visit, and not only because of the leaning tower. Actually the church and baptisterium in Pisa are quite amazing, and wouldn't need the leaning tower to attract visitors.