Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A little more Amsterdam

Dank je (thank you) again to HOLLAND TOURIST OFFICE for inviting me to visit Amsterdam last week.
Such beautiful cheese and so many opps to taste..
Tulip bulbs in the Flower Market
Of course waffles.
Speculaas with an A. In Belgium its spelled with an O FYI. They both shared Flanders at one time, home of the spicy, gingery cookie impossible not to love.
Amsterdam's gingerbread houses. Even easier to love.
By chance I wondered into the Begjnhof enclave. I saw flowering trees down a dark entryway (door on the right) and popped in. Best way to make discoveries when you travel is follow your intuitions.
160 canals and counting in Amsterdam
My canal watercolor..
Endless bikes.
The famous herring place
Exactly in front of the famous SEAFOOF BAR.
I had to run in for a bowl of their inimitable lobster soup (made from the shells).
A stunning display of legs and claws but no time to linger. The train was waiting.
I grabbed a tram forgetting they move slow as tortoises.
With just two hours to explore after the Small Wonders exhibit, I grabbed a pedi-cab to get me halfway to Central station. Bumpy ride but fun.
A beautifully carved old facade on one of Amsterdam's narrow pedestrian streets.
To-die-for beautiful Copperplate calligraphy in Amsterdam's shop windows. I've taken calligraphy up again the last 6 weeks to make your envelopes prettier, but there's a long ways to go. Practice, practice, practice. I hope you enjoyed a little more Amsterdam. I hope I'll get back again soon! Thanks for reading Parisbreakfast.  If you'd like to receive Parisbreakfast letters and mapin your mailbox, stop by my shop. You can now do 'guest checkout' without registering.
Bon journée.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Small Wonders, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

On Thursday I was invited by Holland tourist office on an 'up-and-down' trip (same day go-return) to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  We would see two new exhibitions. One on Middle-Age micro-carved Miniatures, SMALL WONDERS. For a closer look - go to Small The other exhibit on new Photography of the 19th century. Lunch first at restaurant RIJKScreator of many small wonders like this green gazpacho. 
Surprise desserts at Rijks, recently awarded a Michelin star.
The museum's restaurant is not at all small and situated in the facing courtyard.
With a secret back door that takes you directly inside the museum.
Newly renovated in 2013, the interior is full of natural light and airy in contrast to the outer architecture.
Going up the stairway to the new exhibits I was surprised by flower-like lights that 'bloom' open and shut while moving up and down.
Just in front of a beautiful case of china.
Inside Small Wonders - these 16th century Dutch micro-carvings can be the size of walnuts.
Often referred to as prayer nuts, they come from the Delft workshop of Adam Dircksz.
Astonishing. Exactly the size of real peapods. Each pea opens to reveal the life of Adam and Eve. See the link under the first picture for a magnified view.
The display rooms are high ceilinged and wide
Yet designer Aldo Bakker has found a way to make a large space intimate
You are drawn in and focus all your attention on these exquisite small objects. Many fit easily in the palm of your hand.
If you live in Toronto or New York, Small Wonders Exhibit has been in your city.
We were lucky to have curator Frits Scholten who brought these 60 pieces together and knows all their stories, show us through the exhibit.
Mostly devotional objects, these were treasured and passed on as family heirlooms, so their condition is excellent. A tiny magnifying glass was only recently discovered hidden in this box.
I was enthralled with this little bust. These objects are all carved from Boxwood from Picardie, a very dense, very fine wood that does not easily splinter.
A carved bead! The figure pops up and down out of the head.

Saint George and the dragon lent by the Victoria and Albert museum.
Curator Scholten said, "l have studied many dragons." 
If you get to Amsterdam please see the SMALL WONDERS exhibit on until 17 September. And do not miss the rest of the RIJKSMUSEUM either. Or the green gazpacho at restaurant RIJKS! All bucket list material.
Here's a small Paris chocolate bowtie for Parisbreakfast fathers out there.
Do you want more Amsterdam? 
Please say so in the comments below.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Painting Carcassonne

A week of solid drawing in Carcassonne and I forgot how to PAINT WATERCOLORS! I've been brushing up since I got back.
Prof Jeremy had us draw with a single line the contour of the buildings. No fussing around with annoying perspective. Yay!
What a relief
Jeremy's sheet of exquiste drawings done on site in all sizes and shapes. He likes to make the tiniest thumbnails (timbres) too.
The towers are daunting at first. Maybe they never stopped being daunting. You feel like a peanut.

There are tourist shops selling armor and medieval gear in the town. No wonder.

The entrance to Carcassone, where we met every morning.
Much more crowded than shown here, but once you're inside, the structures are so monumental,the crowds appear to  thin out.
Tibetan monks, their straw cone hats provide perfect protection from the strong sun and match the tower rooftops.
In case you're planning on going to a workshop a few tips I picked up. Forget the tripod seat on the left.
Lise had a clear makeup case picked up on Amazon - perfect for carrying supplies. I found I had one at home from a gift makeup assortment.
Lise formed a deep attachment to my Art Advantage double cup water cups, also on Amazon but half the price at Hyatt art supplies.
We all coveted Matine's Maison de Chocolat long chocolate boxes - perfect for stashing your watercolor brushes.
Carcassonne has much in common with Mt Saint Michel. If you like one you should enjoy the other at least for an overnight.
Fortunately I stayed close by in 'plain Jane' Hotel Espace Cité. Espace is clean and simple, but with a fabulous array of fresh fruits in the morning petite dejeuner. Nary a single peach can be found inside the walled cité of Carcassonne. You have been warned. Same story at Mt Saint Michel by the way. Oh the pitfalls of travel. One thing there certainly is, is plenty of is Cassoulet. You have been warned.
Carcassone is definitely worth a visit. Just bring your own fruit and maybe steer clear of Cassoulat in the summer months.