Monday, December 12, 2011

"To see a world in a grain of sand,



And a heaven in a wild flower,



Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,



And eternity in an hour".


William Blake


Chocolate Cupcakes

The other day I decided to bake chocolate cupcakes as little Xmas gifts, and have to say they came out really cute and really tasty!!! I was so impressed!! So if you too would like to try out your creative skill on something a little different this Xmas, here is the recipe for how to make chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate frosting! They make great deserts for any occasion and are perfect if you are entertaining, for afternoon's tea and coffee!

Enjoy and happy baking!! :)

Ingredients for about 12 cupcakes:

200g Flower
60g Chocolate powder
190g Sugar
1 Tea spoon baking powder / or 1/2 sachet baking powder
150 ml Milk
2 Egg Yokes
60g Butter
Small cake decorations

Ingredients for white chocolate frosting:

250g Icing sugar
250g Unsalted butter
Tea spoon vanilla extract
200g White chocolate

Cupcakes

Mix all the wet ingredients together: eggs, milk and melted butter.

Mix all the dry ingredients together: flower, sugar, chocolate, baking powder.

Now mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones in a bawl.

Pour the mixture into small cupcakes dishes and place in the oven for 15/20 minutes at 180 C. After baking use a toothpick to check if they are ready - if the toothpick stays clean they are done.

White Chocolate Frosting

Mix soft butter in the mixer, add icing sugar and continue mixing, then add vanilla extract and finally add melted white chocolate (needs to be cool). Mix everything together well.

Decorating

Now the real fun part begins!! Once the cupcakes are ready, let them cool down, then start decorating them with frosting toppings and other small decorative bits such as flowers, hearts, patterns and anything you like! Have fun!












Monday, December 5, 2011

Milan Art Tour

Yesterday we had our Milan Art Tour! We were a group of 12 people and luckily everything went well! It was a good day and we managed to see quite a lot! Definitely the highlight was Leonardo's Da Vinci's Last Supper, it was truly amazing, I just loved it so much!! So worthwhile!!

Unfortunately although I did bring my camera, I did not get a chance to take many photos of the sites nor the group, as I was quite busy getting tickets, finding our way around the sites etc..etc that taking pictures was not really a priority! But definitely something I will have to make more time for the next trip...

The train journey to Milan from Zurich was quite long - about 3 hours 40 minutes each way - but luckily that was also not too bad as we had reserved our seats in advance and the company was great - we had some really interesting conversations that kept us busy along the way- as well as the scenery was really beautiful! Thus overall, even the train ride has been an enjoyable part of the day!

I had prepared a snack for everybody, I am quite proud of how I packaged it :) it looked really cute in the little transparent bags I put them in! And everything was colour co-ordinated in Orange, my studio-gallery colours - I know I am an orange addict, I love it! :) Everything looked really nice and the people seemed to also have enjoyed it! My husband prepared some homemade focaccia and Sheethal, one of my students, had also made a lovely chocolate cake!!

I have also prepared a little book with some information about the places we visited as well as hired some guides for some of the sites such as the Last Supper and Castle.

Thus, overall I am really happy with how everything went, I will have to organise something like this definitely again!





Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Venetian Holidays

I am just back from really hectic vacation in Italy. Initially we had envisioned to go home for a few days, attend a friend's wedding, visit Venice and spend a couple of days to the sea in Croatia, however, our plans did not completely turn out the way we wanted. At the Croatian border, we were told we could not enter because we did not have a document for our car which certified it belonged to us...so we had to turn around and decided instead to go to the sea close to Venice; we were not too happy about it, but at least then we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Venice Biennale - I had tried a couple of days before to go but unfortunately it was closed the day we went, and then, the following days, there was a national strike on, so thanks to this Croatian inconvenience at least we were able to go. This is the link to the exhibition if you would like to take a look.

http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/exhibition/


This year's show was organised by Bice Curiger who is currently also the curator at Zurich Kunsthaus.

I have put some photos of the shows on my Facebook page if you would like to view them go to:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/jartstudiogallery


While in Italy I also visited a customer who had commissioned me with an artwork and she wanted to show me how it looked in her house. She seemed really pleased with her paining and commissioned me with another work, so I took a photo of the painting and where she has hanged it, see below:

Monday, August 22, 2011













































When I made this painting I was thinking about identity and in particular how it is not inherently fixed onto a person, but rather, it is continually shaped in social space, and how it always takes form in relation to other people as well as the context a person finds herself/ himself in.

Keeping this in mind, I wanted to create an open ended piece which is not fixed and original and which includes not only the meaning I wanted to give to the artwork but also allow for other possible interpretations – again, depending on the particular audience viewing the piece as well as the context it is viewed in.

I thought this was particularly challenging to do in an oil painting as they tend do be more often seen as fixed original and intentional objects, especially if one thinks at the artwork produced by modernist artists, this was in fact, what they set themselves to achieve: artworks that are fixed in their meaning, original and separate from life and its particular context.

However I was also aware that in comparison to performance or body art in general my work would have had some limitations, such as the fact that although I am both subject/object because I have included myself in the painting and I am the art maker, my body is “without organs” and is a representation rather than the real thing: a breathing, living, thinking, feeling and desiring body. But my aim was to provide another perspective, particularly on painting, and try to break down the assumptions regarding its absolute status, especially when considering that painting is often seen as the medium of the male artist par excellence and women – apparently the muses inspiring his genius - where reduced to mere objects that aroused the artists as well as the (supposedly male) viewers pleasure.

So, by including the mirror in the artwork, I wanted to link the piece back with its context and the world; art and life are therefore no longer separated but they support each other in a constant flux. The reflection of the mirror becomes part of the painting and the painting needs its surrounding for the reflection. In addition, the piece is never fixed: light reflected will never be the same at different moments in time, the background provided by the mirror will always change depending on the viewers and where the artwork is viewed.

Another possible limitation for this piece could be that I am a “thin white body” and I am not trying to break pleasure but I actually instigate it. With regards to the former, I think that that the “thin white body” is who I am, and as an artist, I still want to be able to provide my own point of view regardless of the colour of my skin, or what I look like – even though they might be regarded as “normative” features. Sometimes I think discrimination could also work the other way around. In addition, although I do not have any visible marks or features pointing to specific body alienation, this does not mean that I am not an alienated subject. With regards to trying to instigate rather than break down pleasure, this is what I actually wanted to do, but by including the mirror so that the viewer is also reflected in the painting, she/he can no longer remain veiled and hide her/his own investments and desires; this, for me, is what allows myself not to be objectified, and not by simply trying to avoid at all cost pleasure, as most women artists working in a strictly anti-essentialist manner would often claim.

Moreover, by reflecting the viewer onto the painting she/he becomes also both subject and object and thus the relationship between viewers and the artwork/artist becomes interdependent and intersubjective, and it is a relationship which is based on simultaneous subjective/objective identifications rather than one which, as in most of Western painting tradition, gave absolute status and power to the disembodied viewing subjects objectifying the body-woman. The viewer is no longer veiled or disembodies and thus can no longer make any disinterested and absolute claims, but rather, has to acknowledge her/his own contingency, motives and investments.

This artwork seems to be really popular, every time someone sees it in my studio they always ask me about it. And it is funny because although I am a representation in this piece, people seem to give for granted that I am a real body and one of the question I am often asked is what am I thinking about, which to me is also quite interesting for the fact that, by looking at my body posture, the way my head is turned towards the mirror I give the impression that I am pensive - and not the other way around “I think therefore I am”.

Another thing I like about this work is that it really does engage with its surroundings and with the audience, often I find people checking themselves in the mirror, or I get told what a great idea I had to include a mirror in a painting – for its use value to be put in a bedroom for example - and they want to commission me with a similar piece. So I can say that although there might be some limitations regarding this work, I think I have perhaps managed to merge art (in particular painting) and life, as well as subject with object, but most of all I hope I was able to create an interdependent and mutual relationship between the audience, the artwork and the world, as well as challenge common assumption about women, painting and art viewing.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Portrait Commission

Hello! just quickly posting my latest completed commission for a portrait in oil! Such cute subjects!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two are Better than One

A few weeks ago I posted a drawing which I called "Two are Better than One" you can see it below if you want ( scroll down ) but actually, that was one of two, in fact, before this specific one I made another similar drawing which though I did not like so much. However, thinking about this drawing afterwards, I realised that the two complement each other and that is why I have now decided to post also the first version. You can see them both together below!












Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two are Better than One




Meaning is in the eyes of the beholder...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bruce Lipton - The New Biology - Where Mind and Matter Meet

I came across another really interesting video which once again ties in very well with what I have studied, and in particular, the theories on the brain, consciousness, embodiment and so on...This is really great and refreshing, and makes me think a lot about the current beliefs and knowledge circulating in our popular culture! Luckily there are people like Bruce out there that are willing to challenge the so called "normal" practices and show us different sides and points of view.


He is also a great speaker and is able to communicate in a simple and colourful manner allowing dummies like myself ;), who did not have much exposure to medicine or biology, to follow really easily.


I must admit that I do love to see how all of the different disciplines including biology and science, which we usually get to learn as strictly separate subjects, interconnect and relate to other fields including art and philosophy - especially if we look at them from a social, historical and political perspective. So if you have a chance, I do recommend this video, it is definitely worth the watch!


PS. I seem to be having problems in embedding this video in my blog so, just in case, I am also giving you the link to the lecture:




Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Portrait painting 'Alla Prima' - Demonstration



Painting ‘alla prima’ is the Italian term for ‘painting at first’ – I know not a great translation - but put more simply, it means to paint in a fast and sketchy manner, often even without having a preliminary drawing to begin with. In this technique, colours are applied quickly onto the canvas and tones are created either by overlapping wet brushstrokes of different hues, or by blending colours together directly onto the support, rather than on the palette. The result is often a fresh and loose work which is quite fun to create as there is no need to wait for long periods of time for the paint to dry in-between layers; hence allowing to create a piece in a very short space of time - as opposed to the traditional manner which often requires days, and even weeks, for a work to be finished.

Titian – a Venetian artist - was among the first to experiment and work using this technique, and during his time, this was seen as an unorthodox way of painting and was often frowned upon. In fact, during the Renaissance in Italy, there was a very famous debate concerning disegno vs. colore. Florentine artists argued that disegno (design/drawing) was more important than colore (colour), and good painters needed to master it before moving onto painting. On the other hand, Venitians sustained that colore was more important than disegno and therefore, there was no need to make detailed preliminary drawings.

Michelangelo who was a supporter of disegno, after viewing a work by Titian of a nude woman, representing DanaĆ«, is known to have said that “it was a shame that in Venice artists did not learn to draw well from the beginning and that those painters did not pursue their studies with more method. For the truth was, that if Titian had been assisted by art and design as much as he was by nature, and especially in reproducing living subjects, then no one could achieve more or work better, for he had fine spirit and a lively and entrancing style.”

However, despite Michelangelo's and the Florentines views on this matter, many others later followed and built onto Titian and the Venetians' footsteps by practicing and working is such manner: from Caravaggio to Rembrant to the Impressionists, the Modern and many Contemporary artists.

Although I tell my students that the outcome of a good painting is often the result of a good drawing, I still would encourage to try painting ‘alla prima’ and in a more sketchy and loose way, and yes, sometimes, even without having to have a detailed drawing to begin with; I think this can be really liberating and produce great spontaneous work. However, this should not be done as a lazy alternative or because of lack of drawing skills, I believe this should be a choice and that is why I always try to teach my students to draw first, so that then they have more freedom, and their works are based on subjective preferences rather than lack of skills.

With this I am not implying that working ‘alla prima’ does not require proficiency - quite the opposite – in fact, I believe that actually to be able to paint without a drawing – at least for realistic subjects – it is not easy at all, as artworks can turn out to be quite messy if the artist has not ‘mastered’ his/her drawing technique first, making it quite hard to correct mistakes and measurements directly while painting. This also does not mean that painting ‘alla prima’ does not requires a preliminary pencil sketch – this is up to the individual artist – but either way, this method allows one to create fresh, unconstrained and really interesting works of art.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Primitively Modern



I took these photos while on a holiday in the Namibian Desert, in particular, in the mining ghost town of Kolmanskop near Luderitz. I was very fascinated to see how nature and culture shaped and interacted with each other, and how they engaged in a constant flux and becoming.

In some areas of the town, for example, one can see how time and the elements have deteriorated and smashed much of glass from the houses windows, but where it still remains intact, the sand has deposited and formed a golden layer providing the perfect background for tourists to write their names, dates, and comments using their fingers.

Where instead the sand was not obstructed by the windows, it was able to reach inside the houses creating small dunes which now cover floors, room, stairs, and furniture. Tourists visiting these empty houses often need to walk on top of the sand, leaving once again their own marks and footprints…But only until the next change, event; or until the wind will bring new dust that will cover or blow away these traces, creating other intriguing shapes, patters and spaces.