Saturday, April 26, 2014

Floral madness!

Hello floral madness! What can I say? It's spring… and although the daffs are in bloom, not much else is… yet. It will all be coming very soon though. But in the meantime these bright and happy floral prints should hold me over until the rest of the trees and flowers start singing with their colors. Crazy  floral magnificence!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Promenade + passeggiatta

Venetian Promenade, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 1750 

I've always loved this old print of men promenading in their fine clothes. Were these men walking along the ocean's edge, near the Academia, or were they strolling in Piazza San Marco past the Campanile? Was this an evening passeggiatta—or little walk?

What's a La passeggiatta, you wonder?! As evening falls and the sunshine slowly slips away from your favorite piazza, a lovely evening ritual begins—the Italian tradition of passeggiatta or little walk.

This slow and gentle pre-dinner stroll, usually between 5 pm and 8 pm, is especially popular on Sunday evenings. Folks saunter, perhaps arm in arm, and usually in quiet car-free, pedestrian only zones in the historical centers of towns, and most importantly, they look and are looked at!

And of course the Italians dress to impress in their finest cocktail party clothes for their passeggiatta, and inevitably look very hip and snappy compared to weary travelers in sneakers. This is especially so in the big cities. The locals wear their Ferragamo loafers, Versace trousers, Dolce & Gabbana dresses and carry their Prada handbags. Men might drape their colorful Armani sweaters around their shoulders. It's all easy, breezy and relaxed.

They gossip and babble away in lively conversation, meet and greet, check the shop windows, perhaps stop for a quick drink at a cafe or bar, bump into friends and perhaps make impromptu plans to have dinner together. This is is a molto bene way to work up a hearty appetite.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Will!

Hark now, fair readers! This glorious springtime day doth mark the 445th birthday of the inimitable prose extraordinaire and scholar, Sir William Shakespeare. Methinks he doth not look a day over 400!

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William coined dozens of phrases, but did you know he was a wordsmith too? Click here to see 13 words that you probably didn't know he invented.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Boy with rabbit

Boy with rabbit, by Henry Raeburn, 1814 

This was probably one of the first paintings I ever saw. Let me explain. Growing up, in our house, my mom had a beautiful reproduction print of this painting (and also one of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings) hanging on the wall. I've always been a little smitten by the serenity and peacefulness of the scene, as well as the sultry colors. I love the way the artist has painted the white shirt of the boy—look closely at those ruffles and the left sleeve! And the rabbit is darling of course. My mother has given me this print, still in the same frame, and I still look at it almost daily.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Get your egg on

I like these Pantone color inspired eggs for Easter—it's a fun idea for artists and designers. I'm kind of partial to shades of robin's egg blue, like the eggs shown below, but honestly, any colored egg makes me smile. 

Tiffany blue (turquoise) colored eggs are extra special. The color is a little more green than robin's eggs, and in case you're ambitious, the CMYK breakdown for the trademarked Tiffany's Blue is: 73 cyan, 0 magenta, 35 yellow, 0 black. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring is in the air

What color does spring say to you?  The color of pansies?
 Pastel shades of pinks and blues? Yellows?
Or is spring a shade of green? Spring is in the air, 
and to me that means green, green and more green!
Welcome back color, we missed you.

To see more colors, click on the "color inspiration" label below.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Color Inspiration—purple artichokes

There they were, nestled together and looking seductive and tempting in the produce section at Whole Foods Market. I have a serious love for artichokes, and these looked extra beguiling. "I would look good bathed in butter" one artichoke was saying to me. "Love me some lemon." another was cooing. So how could I resist? And why would I even try? 

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Here's my favorite way to steam artichokes:
Prep 2 artichokes by clipping off the pointy tops of the leaves and cutting off the top and bottoms of the bulb. Fill pan 2 inches deep with water, and add 2 cloves garlic, a teaspoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Cut a lemon in half and rub over freshly cut area of the artichokes. Toss lemons into the water. Place artichokes upside down in water or on top of a steaming basket if you have one. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the artichoke. Serve with lemon butter—1 tablespoon lemon mixed into 2 tablespoon melted butter. Oooh, you really DO look good bathed in butter, you purple goddess!

To see more colors, click on the "color inspiration" label below.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Duel orange + pom salad

This is a colorful and delicious fruit salad combo! It has blood red oranges, navel oranges, pomegranate seeds, and orange zest. This is a riff on fruit salad I made last month blood oranges and pom seeds.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brown butter risotto with shrimp + scallops

Giada De Laurentis makes a killer lobster risotto, and that recipe was the inspiration for this dish. Since we already have a favorite lobster risotto from Todd English (his Garlic-lobster risotto Calabrese from his Olive's Table cookbook) we swapped in seared shrimp and scallops for the lobster.

1/2  pound scallops
1/2  peeled and deveined shrimp
4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
6 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a pan, and sear the scallops on medium-high heat for about 1 minute each side. Remove and do the same for the shrimp, Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Keep hot over low heat.In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook until the butter begins to foam and then turns brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of stock to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining butter and 2 tablespoons chives. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve risotto in bowls. Arrange the shrimp and scallops on top of the risotto and garnish with the remaining chives.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The color lavender

Inspired by... the color lavender.

To see more colors, click on the "color blocks" label below.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Luminous marsh

Luminous Marsh  5 x 7 

The inspiration for this new painting was a bright spring moon rising above the salt marshes in Ipswich on a super clear night. Deep greens and blues—ebbing and flowing between the land and the sea. 5x7", oil on canvas panel.

By a world of marsh that 
borders a world of sea. 

Sinuous southward and sinuous 
northward the shimmering band 

Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe 
of the marsh to the folds of the land.

—Sydney Lanier, 1876

Private collection, Waltham, MA

Here is another version I painted of this scene.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools!

I think it's Mother Nature who is playing an April Fools trick on us this year with this chilly weather. This beautiful etching of a fool was made by Hans Hanberg in 1568. He is resting his chin on his right hand, wearing a chain with a large medallion, with a fly on his fool's cap. I'm pretty sure he is looking for signs of spring! 

Click here to see a collection of fools 
and jesters that I have gathered.

Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb 
like the sun, it shines everywhere.

~ William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night