Monday, January 17, 2011

Myopia sled dog races

Photos, Dan Ryan

This weekend we went to the Myopia Sled Dog races in our town. Actually Appleton Farms is in both Hamilton and our neighboring Ipswich—or Hipswich—as I like to call it, and is one many beautiful Trustees of Reservations properties. It was cold, snowy, exciting, and filled with two and four legged masses—the former doing the mushing and the latter doing the yelping. I felt as though I was in Europe because it had an über cool Nordic-Bavarian sort of vibe going on. Plus I love the smell of gas exhaust from snow mobiles... Is that wrong? There were some great sponsors and booths this year, including the True North Gallery in Hamilton. It was great fun, and thankfully Mother Nature pulled through with heaps and heaps of snow. Hot chocolate and Baileys tasted great after... Mush!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sea kelp... Seek help


Inspired by... sea kelp.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Air mail birds

I have a small series of little watercolor bird and stamp collages that have been on display at the Hamilton Post Office since December. Although I usually paint with oil on canvas, I do occasionally play with watercolors as well. These cheerful watercolor and stamp collages are the direct result of being confined to bed for several weeks after a major surgery late last winter. Oil painting in bed was simply not an option! I was entertained and inspired by the sights and sounds of various birds calling their potential mates, and the result of this were these darling little birds that debuted at the Gallery Della-Piana for their Bird themed exhibit in July of 2010. The red one sold and the rest are still for sale. Contact me for pricing.

Made you smile, didn't they?

Remember when people used to write letters? A note in the mail is still priceless to me, and so much more civilized than e-mail. I adore postage stamps and have been collecting them for ages. They come from my travels in Europe, from post cards send from family or friends from around the planet, or I sometimes buy them through the internet. Each of the stamps are little gems and they all go into my stamp box, which has gotten to be quite a large collection over the years. Who wouldn't love to see a Cary Grant stamp [She said, swooning] on an envelope?

And speaking of birds, here is a large oil painting I made of a cardinal. I call him Big Red.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter shadows

  Photo by Dan Ryan

Tress in our London Plane tree alleé.

The Snow

The snow, in bitter cold,
Fell all the night;
And we awoke to see
The garden white.
And still the silvery flakes
Go whirling by,
White feathers fluttering
From a gray sky.
Beyond the gate, soft feet
In silence go,
Beyond the frosted pane
White shines the snow.

F. Ann Elliott 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More on marshes

If you truly love salt marshes then you must check out a gifted local photographer named Dorothy Kerper Monnelly. By the way, her husband Ed is a brilliant photographer as well. Dorothy has published a book about the marshes which is filled with her beautiful photography and lovely writing called The Great Marsh. If you are trying to buy local she sells the book on her website and at Russell Orchards in Ipswich, but of course Amazon has a good price on it. Of her work, the Essex National Heritage area writes this:
"Award-winning photographer Dorothy Monnelly captures the yet-unspoiled beauty of one of the last natural ecosystems in the Northeast. In this collection of 57 large-format, black and white photographs, the salt marsh is a solemn force rendered dramatically with crisp reproductions of Monnelly’s original gelatin silver prints. As a native of Ipswich, MA, Monnelly executes her work with a familiarity and grace evocative of Ansel Adams. Her work is described in the foreword by Jeanne Adams, manager of The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, as capturing the marsh’s “amazing sculptural quality.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Salt Marshes


Lately I have been interested [OK, admittedly obsessed!] with the beautiful, wide open salt marshes of our area—Essex, Ipswich, and Gloucester, in particular. I love the salt marshes in every season because they are the ultimate chameleons—ever changing, ever evolving, and always magnificent. On a snowy, wintery day one can barely make out the river of flowing water, or you will see crusty icebergs that look more like white Mississippi mud flats. In winter the salt marsh hay turns a golden brown which gets all matted down like a wet dog caught in the rain. The reemergence of the new salt marsh hay in springtime is beautiful and miraculous, as with any perennial. In summer when the air is buttered with humidity, the grass is a vibrant lime green that sways in the breeze, and if you're lucky you'll see white cranes picking for nibbles at low tide. The fall salt marshes are an absolute riot of colors! The waning hay turns into a psychedelic mélange of pinky, orange, lime, and gold colors, and if you catch the marsh on a full moon when the tides are über high, then all you see are the tops of those crazy hay colors floating on the marsh waters. It's magic. And so the cycle goes. Every day, and every time of day, the marshes have a different mood to delight us. The painting above was shown in the Annual Crane Estate Art Show in at Castle Hill in Ipswich. Here are several more examples of my salt marsh paintings.

photos, Dan Ryan

Well I did warn you that I was obsessed with them, didn't I? And there are even more on my website, I don't know what draws me to these salt marshes, but there's no stopping me!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Greetings! Click to read more about me.

This photo of my twin brother David and me was taken by my mom, circa 1968 (when we were about 7). How could I not be inspired to be a gardener and artist while waltzing though a purple haze of delphiniums at such a young and impressionable age? And look at those funky eyeglasses I was wearing... aren't those back in style?

Visual inspiration is everywhere! On this blog I will share my everyday inspirations—photos, films, books, art etc. that influence my bella vita—paintings, and my culinary and garden creations.

Things I love,
in no particular order: sauntering in my garden with my husband Dan; my cashmere bathrobe; Julia Child; vintage films; not-so-vintage champagne; heaps of garden books; gorgeous gardens; Renaissance art, architecture, and history; Bach's Sonata No. 3 for cello; thick stationery; Harper's Index; Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire; Old Holland oil paints; fireflies; Cheez-itz; Jane Austen; French tulips (white); linen napkins (white); crisp cotton shirts (white, of course!); Mozart's Mass in c minor; my homemade chocolate truffles; Dooney & Bourke handbags; the scent of RL Polo Black on my husband; Pepperidge Farm Goldfish; Cary Grant; Katharine Hepburn; Bette Davis (Y'arnt); my Hermés scarfs (don't ask, don't tell); kale (seriously); Borghese skin care products; John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany; anything my mom cooks; my Santa Maria Novella perfume (bought in Florence!); colorful food; a colorful life, lapsang souchong tea; Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince; monograms; Gérard Mulot pâtisserie, Paris; creative people; summer nights at Tanglewood; The Bach Cello Suites; Jeremy Irons' voice; Agatha Christie's Poirot; Lilly Pulitzer; the Turner Classic Movies channel; rainy days; The Tao of Mr. Rogers; Crane's Beach; being in a foreign country; being home; the song 'You Only Get What You Give' by the New Radicals; Alice in Wonderland; The Wind in the Willows; picnics; James Taylor; iced tea with lemon (preferably Meyer lemon); Spring peepers, Summer crickets, Autumn geese, and Winter silence; the wit of Oscar Wilde; shoes (ahem); anything PBS Masterpiece; 
particular scents—such as oil paints, lemons, balsam pine pillows, fresh lavender, bread dough rising, fresh vanilla pods, garlic cooking in olive oil, freshly grated nutmeg and peat burning in Ireland. I could keep going you know...

Things I don't love: plastic forks!

So what else makes Diane, Diane? Read the blog and find out.