Tagged Art

Modern Quilters

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via Design Houston – Modernism emerges in quilting world

Is there such a thing as a hobby-crush? Because I have a hobby-crush on modern quilters. And as soon as I finish up my current sewing projects, I’m going to finally take a running leap into the quilting circle.

I’ve made two t-shirt quilts, so I understand the basic concept of how to make a quilt. But I’ve always wanted to design and sew my own quilt. It’s on my list of 101 things, and I have a whole Pinterest board dedicate to quilts that I love! I love quilts because they are so cozy, and they can be used anywhere – wrapped up on the couch, laid out at the beach, or draped over the end of a bed.

I’ve recently been very intrigued by modern quilters – which makes sense for me – it’s like graphic design in quilt form! Colors and compositions and weight and patterns. It’s all the same whether it’s on a screen, a canvas, or a quilt.

Here are some quilts that have been inspiring me lately:

Colorful quilt by Anna Maria Horner

This one is the quilt that really did me in.  I believe I “pinned” this image to my board with a caption that went something like “THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN.” Consider me inspired.

Meg Callahan Quilt

Meg Callahan Ada Quilt

Meg Callahan was the first modern quilter I came across and she’s amazing! Look at all the symmetry!

Scrappy Lone Star from the Modern Quilters Guild

I love this one by Janice Ryan of the Modern Quilters Guild! It takes the elements of the classic patchwork quilt and the modern colors, weighting, and composition make a fun and punchy quilt.

Tangled by Robert Kaufman

This awesome intertwined quilt is a pattern that will be available in September through Robert Kaufman.

Bolt and Bias Quilt

Move over teddy bears and ballerinas. This baby quilt by Etsy seller Bolt & Bias is beautiful!


Quilt by Angela Flicker – The Artists House

This colorful one is AMAZING!! I would love to attempt something like this quilt by Angela Flicker. She made this one for the Temporary Museum of Permanent Change and Craft Lake City’s gallery exhibit titled, “Celebration of the Hand”. Her Flickr photostream is full of other amazing examples of her work.

Now I just need to finish the projects I’ve already started!!

The Cloisters Museum

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When you enter the Cloisters Art Museum you’ll leave Manhattan and step into a little piece of Europe. Located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, the Cloisters Museum is a medieval art museum. The museum is a blend of paintings, architecture, sculptures, artifacts, and stained glass. With several courtyards, you’ll wander in and out of doors admiring everything from sunshine-laden stained glass windows to dark rooms protecting tapestries featuring mythical beasts.



A cafe in one of the courtyards at The Cloisters


Books + Illumination. My medieval profession of choice.



A tapestry in the Unicorn Room



Where: The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, New York City

When: Open 7 Days a Week, 10am-5:15pm

Why: The Cloisters was the collection of George Grey Barnard, who had a personal passion for medieval art. The Cloisters has been a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1925. There are countless vivid stained glass windows, altarpieces, paintings, and statues. Downstairs in the “treasures” room are smaller pieces – and definitely worth the time. See some amazing illuminated books, and even a modified deck of playing cards.

Of Note: Don’t miss the Unicorn Room. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a whole room of medieval tapestries portraying hordes of men attacking the frightful mythical beast. There is even (what they believed to be) a unicorn horn on display. (Which is actually the tusk of a Narwhal.) Also, the Cloisters Museum has multiple courtyards (including one with a cafe) for milling about and enjoying the sunshine. (It’s always nice when art museums have pleasurable places to sit down. My feet need a break every once in a while.) Also, from the front of the building is a large terrace with beautiful views of the Hudson River.

Admission: $25 “recommended”, which means you can give whatever you choose. (I gave $10.)

All the credit for this afternoon goes out to my lovely tour-guide of a sister-in-law! We spent about three hours exploring The Cloisters, as well as some of the nearby Fort Tryon Park. We spent the rest of the beautiful and sunny afternoon walking through Central Park and then a fantastic dinner at Greek restaurant Kefi. I was in NYC for business, and managed to also eat at Rosa Mexicano (legit table-side guacamole service) and the Empire Hotel Rooftop (you’ll have to lurk for a seat but the views are worth it)! I recommend them all!

The city of a million restaurants!

Medieval art isn’t my favorite, but this museum was worth the trip. What’s your favorite type of art?

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels more like you’re traipsing through Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home than an art museum near Fenway. For precisely this reason, it’s a must-go on my list. This unusual museum was the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was an avid art collector in the early 1900s, who set up the museum in her Fenway home and ordered it to be left exactly as it is – which is how you’ll view it today. There are no white gallery walls with succinct wall plaques to identify the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance pieces the house holds.No photos are allowed in the museum, so I’ll be sharing images from the Gardner Museum website.

The Courtyard

The Raphael Room

The Short Gallery

The Little Salon

The Dutch Room

The Spanish Cloisters

Where: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

When: Open daily 11:00am–5:00pm, Thursday until 9:00pm

Highlights: There are a number of large-scale paintings by John Singer Sargent, including a portrait of Ms. Gardner herself that was deemed so “scandalous” it was hidden from public view during her lifetime by her husband. Don’t miss the beautiful ceiling painting in the Italian Room and the Michelangelo and Raphael sketches hidden behind paneling. The glass courtyard is a beauty to behold with constantly rotating foliage to admire. There are a number of non-art artifacts as well, including a hand-written letter by George Washington.

Of Note: In 1990 a number of works in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum were stolen, and the robbery remains the largest theft of all time. The thieves stole a Vermeer, 3 Rembrandts, a Manet, 5 Degas, and several other items, amounting to $500 million in art. Several of the frames remain empty on the walls of the museum to this day.

Things to Know: The museum is quite dark inside to protect the artwork. We went on a Thursday night, and the added daylight from the windows would have been helpful in a few rooms. This is cell-phone free museum, you’ll want to keep it tucked away, or one of the many lurking docents will kindly ask you to. Public transportation recommended, as parking in this area of the city is notoriously difficult.

Admission: $15/adult. Free if your name is Isabella. $5/adult if you purchase your tickets through a local library.


The G Cafe inside the museum looks lovely, and gets great reviews. However, we were there at closing time, so we walked around West Fens and tested out a great sushi/hot pot place instead – Swish Shabu. It garnered two sushi-sized thumbs up from all of us!

Does art theft fascinate you as much as it does me?

The Art Institute of Chicago

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I have a habit of taking lots of pictures in art museums of all my favorite pieces. I’ve dragged my husband to more art museums than I’d like to admit. If I am ever in a new city I always try to make a stop into new, or favorite, museums.

I thought it would be a fun addition to the blog if I shared my reviews of art museums as I visit them throughout the year! I’ll start with the Chicago Institute of Art.

artinchicagoA personal favorite – the Chagall window

artinchicago3chicago22 chicago20 chicago18  artinchicago4

Where: The Art Institute of Chicago

When: Open daily 10:30am–5:00pm, Thursday until 8:00pm

Highlights: “American Gothic”, by Grant Wood, (seen above, farmers) is one of the more popular pieces in this Chicago museum, as is the “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, by Seurat (seen above with children sitting on the floor). The Art Institute of Chicago has a sizable Impressionism collection, and a wonderful Modern collection as well. It unfortunately was under construction during my last visit, but opens this month. The museum reconstructed the Chicago Stock Exchange Room (from the 1890s) in one of it’s wings. It was beautiful and, away from the popular pieces, it’s quite quiet! It’s located near the Chagall window, which, is one of my personal favorites.

Things to Know: Mornings can be quite busy with field trips (which can be quite annoying, as they tend to hop to and crowd out the most famous pieces in the museum). One of museum’s cafes is located in the courtyard, which is both quiet and beautiful!

Admission: $23.00 for an adult (Admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5-8pm)

artinchicago2If you go, be sure to check out the outdoor installations in neighboring Millennium Park. Chicago can always be counted on for fantastic public art.

Have you been to the Art Institute of Chicago? What’s your favorite art museum?

LACMA Gets Dressed Up: Diane Von Furstenberg Exhibit



Fashionista I am not, but even I am familiar with Diane Von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress.

My dear friend I was visiting had been to the Journey of a Dress exhibit at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and thought I would enjoy it – she was right! The exhibit celebrates the 40th anniversary of Von Furstenberg’s brand.

The exhibit is made up of three halls – one central hallway features large-scale photographs that tell the story of the dress and its inclusion in pop culture throughout its lifetime. (Everyone from a 1970s Sharon Stone to modern-day First Lady Michelle Obama.


The second is an art gallery where Diane Von Furstenberg served as a muse to many famous artists. Many of you will recognize the famous series done by Andy Warhol. Fewer of you will recognize the haunting series of portraits done by Chuck Close (one of my personal favorite artists).


The third is the Wrap Room – a large room where many dresses are displayed, organized by theme. The dress truly transcends time, as many of the original patterns I could easily see women wear today. Only the size and shape of lapels and cuffs gave any indication of decade.


The concept of the wrap dress is simple, yet revolutionary. Truly a sign of the times when it came to the changing culture of women in the workforce. The dress, which wraps around the torso and ties at the waist, featured no tricky zippers, easily transitions from day to night, and work to play. A piece of fabric that is symbolic of the modern woman.

“For the women of the land had gone to work. Heigh-ho! It was the 70’s, and en masse, they left their sculleries and their hearths for careers in finance, law and other fields that had been the province of men… They went straight from the office out to dinner, they went around the world, washing the dress at night in their hotel room’s bathroom sink.”  – Holly Brubach, Fashion Historian


The entire hall itself is attractive and exciting – from the hot pink walls of the entry way, to the funky floors mimicking the patterns from the textiles.


The Journey of a Dress exhibit will be at the LACMA until April 1, 2014 and should you be in the L.A. area I’d certainly recommend checking it out!

Entrance to this particular exhibit is free. Parking at the LACMA is $10. For parents, if you register your child with the LACMA, your child and you (one parent) can get into any exhibit for free.

Don Gorvett and Staying Inspired


This beautiful print is from the talented Dana Tanamachi and is for sale in her online shop found here.

Over the summer I met Don Gorvett, a printmaker in Portsmouth, N.H. We fell into a lengthy conversation about making time for art and, although a complete stranger, he was extremely encouraging to me as an artist and I left his studio quite inspired.

I had mentioned how I took a printmaking class in college and how much I enjoyed/missed it. He said that artists often don’t give themselves time to create because they don’t feel it’s a “valuable” use of their time when there are so many things “to do” – when it’s actually invaluable.

By the end of our conversation he and my husband were discussing the specs of my artist studio shed. (Is this not the ultimate dream of every writer/artist?!?)

I have another friend who constantly asks me what I am working on. (Hi Audrey!) And I keep having to say nothing! I’ve been thinking a lot about reincorporating the arts into my free time again. I haven’t dedicated time to art since school. The same was true of writing until I ran into another old friend, and since then I’ve been writing here. Who knows where this push will take me?

On another note, Don Gorvett is an incredible woodcut printmaker whose pieces often feature New England landscapes. Maybe one day one of his pieces will grace our home.

via Don Gorvett Gallery

Between my design work, photo editing and all my DIYing it feels like I’m in my creating world a lot – but that’s not necessarily true.

Another thing that Don said to me that has stayed with me is that if I’m not pursuing my art, I’m leaving a part of myself behind. He encouraged my husband to make me stick with it as well.

Now about that artist shed… Ummm yup, I think I could make do in something like this:

photo via William Wright Photography

Whether I’d be inclined to let paint fly in a beautiful shed like that is another story.

What personal passions have you been ignoring? How do you make time for them?

DIY Kitchen Word Art: What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’?


Easy DIY Word Art Tutorial - Design Lively

Last week I posted on my latest adventure with beadboard wallpaper – my kitchen backsplash. Well, I got inspired and decided to re-do the art above my stove.

About a year ago I made a word-art sign that hung above my stove that said “What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin'” because it’s not an unusual occurrence for someone in this household to burst out singing this song.

While I loved the pop of yellow, the text didn’t read well from far away, so once I had my new backsplash I was inspired to give it another go! This time around I choose a higher contrasting blue and white letters and a chunkier typeface – Helvetica.

As a reminder of how I transfer my letters on to my wood board, see below!

The EASIEST Way to Transfer Fonts to Wood Boards:

Easy DIY Word Art Tutorial - Design Lively

1. Choose a font and what you’d like to say – and print it out!

2. Turn the paper over and rub it with chalk

3. Tape the paper (chalk-side down) and tape it into place. Trace over the outlines of the letters with a pen or pencil.

4. The pressure of the pen should leave a chalky residue behind, transferring your type.

5. Begin painting! Start with the outlines and then fill the letters in. I used craft paint and a tiny paintbrush.

6. After the paint has dried, the chalk residue will just wipe away.

Easy DIY Word Art Tutorial - Design Lively

You tell me, what’s cookin’ good lookin’?

(And on that note – I need to cook some dinner!)

I submitted this project to Beneath My Heart’s “Best of DIY October” Link Party

Touring the Wacky and Whimsical Mackenzie Childs Victorian Farmhouse


Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

The types of artists and designers that I truly enjoy the most are the ones that create things you don’t see with your two eyes. J.K. Rowling, Lisa Frank, Alex Katz, Betsey Johnson. And Mackenzie Childs.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs creates whimsical ceramics, furniture and household items. All pieces are created and painted by hand in one of several trademark patterns (the most famous being black and white checks).

The headquarters, store and inspirational-styled Victorian farmhouse are located on what used to be an old dairy farm in Aurora, NY and open to visitors. While the men in our family were headed to the PGA golf tournament, my mom and I decided to have a girls day out and visit Mackenzie Childs.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There is a lovely shop full of everything you can imagine – candlesticks, to rugs, to champagne glasses, to patio furniture. The only downfall of Mackenzie Childs – it is not cheap. But still fun to poke around.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

In a small theater off the shop is a 20 minute video where you can learn all about the ceramic molding, firing and glazing process. There is also a massive and intricately decorated dollhouse – my eight-year-old self was in heaven.

Visitors aren’t able to tour the work area – where all the pottery is molded, fired and glazed. But, we were able to peek through a few windows at the shelves full of works in progress!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There is a beautiful courtyard you can sit at and enjoy. Sadly it was a misty, rainy day, so we were unable to linger in it very much that day.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

The free Farmhouse tour is given hourly and is quite a treat.  Have you ever been to one of those home expo tours and go through beautifully styled homes?

Well, it was like that! Except Mackenzie-Childs-esque – which you’ll see is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

We had to wear protective booties because of the rain.

The style is not exactly how I’d decorate my own home, but I love how the brand beats to it’s own crazy colorful drum and doesn’t look back.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There are small details all over the house – from funky reading glasses perched on open books, to classical painting that have been “modified” with crazy black and white checked pants and flowers.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

How adorable is this kitchen? I love the pink knobs.

I feel like I only might bake cupcake and french toast though if this was my kitchen. It doesn’t exactly scream grilled cheese or stir-fry to me.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs style waffles between eccentrically funky and decidedly feminine.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

How fun is that chair? I could actually see something like that in my house.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Small details like beautiful bottles of soap, large floral print wallpapers and decorative vintage handkerchiefs filled the hallways.

But the tiles in the bathrooms were some of my very favorite features!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Hunter Boots even offers a Mackenzie Childs boot!

Mackenzie Childs Hunter Boots

The premises are beautiful and on Cayuga Lake – complete with gardens, ponds, and farm animals.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

I had to take a picture of this – even the sawhorses in one of the outbuildings are “on-brand” with the classic checks!

We were there a week after their annual sale – which is pandemonium with people traveling from all over the country. Women camp out on air mattresses and wristband access is required to get into the tent to score goods for up to 80% off! About 15,000 people come to the annual sale event – yowza. I’m not sure I am even crazy enough for that.

After our farmhouse tour, we headed into the tiny town of Aurora (population 722 people!) and stopped in a few shops and had (a delicious) lunch at the Aurora Inn – a beautiful building in the center of town.

Aurora Inn

The restaurant overlooks Lake Cayuga, and the grounds are right at water-level.

The Aurora Inn

(It would be a great place for a wedding – if anyone is looking!)

The town of Aurora and the Mackenzie Childs farmhouse are around 1-1.5 hours from Rochester and Syracuse and definitely worth a day trip! While it would have been nice to stroll the property in nicer weather, I definitely walked away inspired!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

While Richard and Victoria Mackenzie Childs (the artists who started the brand) no longer own the company, they also restored another old home on Cayuga Lake. You can see it on one of my favorite websites – Hooked on Houses!

Have you heard of Mackenzie Childs before? What do you think of the crazy and whimsical patterns?

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Thanks for stopping by! : ) Kat

Italy Travels: We Came, We Rome-d, We Conquered – Part I


3 days in Rome, ItalyI failed to mention this in my last post. We trip-journal. I’d definitely recommend it. At the end of every day we each record the events of that day from our own recollections. It’s funny to see what we each remember differently. Plus, 12 days of vacation can turn into a giant blur if you don’t write it down each day!

When in Rome. All roads lead to Rome. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

There’s a reason Rome is a natural part of our vernacular.

3 days in Rome, Italy
Amazing view walking from the Spanish Steps up to the Borghese Gardens

Rome was… chaotic. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this “super-city” and I’m still not quite sure how to describe our experience in Rome. We flew in and out of Rome, and spent three days in this bubbling city.

Our trip began and ended in Rome, and I have mixed emotions about the city. Rome was cultural. Rome was crowded. Rome was rich with history. Rome was overwhelming. Rome was, certainly, unlike any other place I’ve ever been before.

3 days in Rome, Italy

Walking into oncoming traffic to cross the roads. Ignoring the (crowds of ) aggressive street peddlers. The swarms of tourists (in hindsight, we should have schedule Rome for mid-week). The sneaky swindlers looking to guilt tourists into tips for unrequested “services” (we had an incident on a train).

Yet, Rome is also unbelievably historic. Richly beautiful. Lively and Italian.

Vatican Museum

The Sistine Chapel was one of my trip highlights. There’s a famous scene in the movie “Good Will Hunting” that takes place in Boston Commons. Robin Williams is talking to Matt Damon about the difference between living and experiencing life and says, But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.

You can bet I took a deep breath while standing under that glorious ceiling.

3 days in Rome, Italy

The Vatican Museum in general was just amazing. The two main draws, the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Room, did not disappoint. I also particularly enjoyed the Cartography Hallway, and the courtyard with amazing statues, including the Laocoon.

To visit the museum, you must reserve tickets in advance. This will let you skip the line outside of the building. However there is still a line inside (we waited about 20 minutes). Although your ticket has a reservation time on it, they didn’t appear to pay any attention to the particular time, so if you are late – like we were – don’t sweat it.

I3 days in Rome, Italy

While inside the museum, just follow the basic flow of traffic and you won’t miss anything. We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder for most of our time through the museum. But don’t let the crowds rush you along. Take your time, particularly in the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel! We used the free Rick Steve’s audio tour for the Sistine Chapel. It took us about 3 (non-leisurely) hours to make our way through the museum.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world, and the most opulent church I’ve ever stood inside. The impossibly long nave with gleaming, golden intricacies, Bernini’s glowing canopy over the tomb of St. Peter, the iconic dome-to-inspire-all-domes, Michelangelo’s famous Pieta statue. The entire inside literally glows with golden hues. The religious and artistic significance of St. Peter’s Basilica is astounding.

3 days in Rome, Italy

St. Peter’s Basilica can be easily and quickly accessed when leaving the Sistine Chapel. The basilica is free to enter, and much less crowded than the Vatican Museums. We used the free Rick Steve’s audio tour for the tour. It took us about 1 hour to make our way throughout the basilica.

Trevi Fountain

3 days in Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain is a magical place. We saw two proposals there in one night! (One looked like it went well! The other… not so much.) While the Trevi is magical, it is also crowded. We visited it each day in hopes of finding a thinned out crowd. Well, let me tell you, even at midnight on a Tuesday, the place is packed. I don’t believe it’s ever without crowds of on-lookers enjoying the massive fountain and tossing coins over their shoulder. Just try your best to shimmy down on to whatever surface you can call a seat and enjoy the experience.

(PS – Rome collects over $3000 dollars a day from coins in the Trevi! The money helps feed the homeless.)

3 days in Rome, Italy

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps were neat – not my favorite site in Rome, but a fun place to sit among loads of people. Just don’t bring a slice of pizza there. Apparently people in Rome think eating in public is really weird. Oops!

The streets are the Spanish Steps are picturesque and classic “Rome” in my mind. It’s also the place to go for upscale shopping, if that’s your thing.

3 days in Rome, ItalyItalian men dress up. Even the ones on the bathroom sign.

Campo di Fiori

Take this with a grain of salt, but being in Campo di Fiori made me feel like I was in the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp. I guess that means it felt like the quintessential Rome piazza experience.

It was there we found our favorite Rome restaurant – Mercato.

3 days in Rome, Italy

We loved it so much, we went twice! We never had a dish that we didn’t like, but the pizza was particularly tasty.

3 days in Rome, Italy

There is also a Grom gelato in Campo di Fiori – yum! Grom is one of the more popular gelato chains, as they use all fresh and organic ingredients.

I’ll be back later this week with the rest of our Rome adventures! Ciao!

Also, today’s my Mom’s birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DORTH VADER!

DIY Subway Art


DIY Subway Art - DesignLively

I have finally succumbed to the mega-trend that is subway art.

There is a lot of “word art” out there in the world today. “Real” subway art, or bus scrolls, are black and white and use the typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk, though modern updates of any official subway signage are written in Helvetica.

DIY Subway Art - DesignLively

I created this sign in Adobe Illustrator using Helvetica, and altered the kerning (space between letters) and letter height for variation. I printed it at Staples using the “Engineering Print” category – purchasing this huge poster for $4.99. Then I spray-mounted the poster on a piece of large foam core (black foam core so the edges blended) with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive and finally just hung it up in our bedroom.

The locations I chose are all places that meant a lot to us during our days of college.

It makes me happy! And gives us a big piece of meaningful art for only $10.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!