July 24, 2014

Hello Summer! | Issue #4

I just emailed my monthly newsletter to my subscribers and here is a copy - if you want to know what it looks like. The newsletter is roundup of my lastest posts under a different theme each month.  It is a very convenient and easy way to read my blog.  I do not use my subscribers' email for anything other than this newsletter, so you don't have to worry about spam.   If you want to subscribe, you can do it here.

July 23, 2014

The Swimmers of Eric Zener

It happens every single time I look at Eric Zener's paintings.  With just one glance, I am no longer working in my office.  I am happily swimming in a pool on the most glorious summer day.  I am a child playing and jumping in the water, laughing and having fun in the sun.  I feel free, happy and relaxed.

Eric Zener is an American photorealist artist who is currently living in Mill Valley, California and painting at his studio in Sausalito.  He is self-taught and has been painting for 20+ years. I was very lucky to be able to ask him a few questions.

Water is present in almost all of your paintings. Why do you think that you have this fascination for water? 
Eric Zener: From our conception, culture, religious sacraments, cleansing, joy and our mesmerizing gaze at the horizon, we are connected to it. Water provides both an escape and a return. A surrendering.  A summer pool, a beckoning sea, a long hot shower all provide an aqueous reset button.
Nature moves much slower than us. It is much bigger than us. If we recognize that perspective it is a gift that can humble us and relieve us of the daily trappings of modern life. As an artist I am drawn to imagery that reflects nuances that often go unnoticed. A blade of light across a morning cafe table. A single cloud, seemingly lost, looking for it’s clan.  Water affords us a place to return to that endless summer left behind. A place, if only for a moment, to comfort us with memories of pool parties, suntan lotion and long summers.

Your paintings bring back happy memories of childhood, summer vacations, carefree moments.  Was it a conscious decision to follow this path? 
Eric Zener: I have found that most art depicts the figure in neutral, somber or on a thin line of ambiguity between the two. Rarely have I’ve seen a big happy smile; and if so, it usually borders on the greeting card side of things.  It was an enjoyable challenge to capture this state of happiness in paint, and to take on the stigma of prosaic imagery. Yes, art in and of itself carries a history of torment (largely on the side of the artist), and reflective in the torment the subjects often reveals the feelings of the painter. I am pretty happy though...and I hope that it is reflected here.

Last week, I posted my summer to-do list.  What is on yours?
Basically spend as much time with my kids as possible, from the mundane of grocery shopping to the exasperating experience of adding two new kittens to our household.  We also have plans to travel - I love exploring new places and new experiences with my kids…they teach me through their learning.

Can he recommend a book, a movie or an artist that inspired him lately?
 “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss

  To buy Eric's work, visit his website!
♥  To learn more about Eric, listen to his lecture at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco on YouTube. Very interesting!

Photo credit for the last photo

July 22, 2014

Dining & Entertaining Al Fresco

Some of my favourite moments of this summer involve good friends and hanging out on their patios. At the beginning of my vacation, my childhood friend Anne invited me for dinner at her house.  She has one of the most beautiful outdoor space and garden I have ever seen....thanks to her architect boyfriend! Anne and I spent the entire evening outside talking over cocktails and food during one of the most beautiful nights of the summer.  Once it got dark, she brought out candles and lanterns.  Did I mention that she is the perfect hostess?
Another patio that I love is at my friend Martin who is a bar owner. He turned his small backyard in the city into a green oasis filled with flowers with an outdoor fireplace.  He is a beer aficionado and his patio is the perfect place for happy hour, trying new beers and hanging out with some friends.
As for me, I can't talk about my own backyard right now because I live in an apartment.  I am saving up to buy my own house and a backyard is definitely on my must-haves list. I won't need much space but I want a lot of greenery, a small garden and a fireplace.  Here are a few ideas for my future backyard and yours!

July 17, 2014

My Photos of Amalfi Coast, Italy

Looking through my posts and my travel photos, I just realized that I never posted the photos of my trip to the Amalfi Coast. In June 2012, I spent 9 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Venice and took two day-trips: Tuscany and Amalfi Coast.  Here are the photos of this beautiful day in paradise!

All the photos by my sister and me!

Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa | Website 
Salerno, Amalfi Coast

Le Sirenuse Hotel | Website
Via C. Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano, Italy

July 15, 2014

My Summer To-Do List (50 Activities)

Halfway through summer, it is the perfect time to check out what is still on your to-do list and update it with some cool ideas.   Here are 50 activities that will inspire you to enjoy your summer to the fullest.  I divided the list in five categories: nostalgic, eat & drink, relax, the great outdoors and just because.
Let me know if I forgot something and I will add it!

See a movie at the drive-in 
(and DO NOT sneak someone in the trunk)
Walk on a boardwalk 
Play miniature golf
Catch fireflies at night
Buy a Creamsicle from the neighborhood ice cream truck
Build a sandcastle at the beach
Pick berries and peaches at a farm
Go to an amusement park
Toss a Frisbee
Blow bubbles

Eat a whole lobster with your hands
Roast marshmallows over a fire and make s’mores
Make lemonade from scratch
Eat lunch from a Food Truck
Eat corn on the cob
Sip a sweating glass of iced tea
Eat a slice of watermelon
Buy fresh produce at the farmers’ market
Mix up a pitcher of sangria
Have a barbecue

Read a book under a tree
Nap in a hammock
Have a picnic in the park
Get a mani-pedi with a friend
Have a DIY day
Sit on a porch swing
Watch the sun set from a beach and/or a rooftop
Dangle your feet off a dock
Pick wildflowers

Go for a hike
Swim in a lake
Have a bonfire
Rent a bike
Go camping
Play tennis
Go kayaking or canoeing
Roll up your pant legs and go wading
Stargaze while lying in the grass

Collect seashells at the beach
Take a last-minute road trip
Have a "How I Met Your Mother" marathon
Walk barefoot in the grass
Get caught in a summer rainstorm
Sleep with the windows open
Go to a baseball game
Pull an all-nighter
Make a summer playlist
Jump in a pool fully clothed
Go to a music festival

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