Tag: Art

Decorating with Vintage Pennants

Vintage and retro travel ephemera is one of my favorite categories of art. I love that period of graphic design and adding a little kitsch to my home makes me smile. A while ago I purchased some vintage pennants and have been pondering where and how to use them. Today I’m rounding up a few ways I am considering how to display mine.

vintage pennants

My new collection!

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The Wild Rumpus at Tower Hill Botanical Garden

A few weeks ago I met a friend at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, MA to see the Wild Rumpus Stickwork exhibit. It was my first time at Tower Hill. What a beautiful place!

Tower Hill Botanical Garden - Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus is inspired by the famous children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. The Stickwork exhibit feels like the magical towers sprouted right from the ground.

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The Cloisters Museum


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.

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The Art Institute of Chicago


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.

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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.

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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.

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Holy Moly Art

FIRST, Happy Labor Day Weekend!!

I hope your weekend is filled with lots of non-laborious activities.

(Also, Happy Birthday Dad!)


After seeing some greeting cards based on a similar premise, this idea of pushpin (or thumbtack if you prefer) art was born.

During a major session of magazine reading, I came across a pictures of a woman’s office. She had a poster on her wall that said “Ode to the Joy of Life” on it. I ripped it out and saved it (as we all did in the pre-Pinterest days). I’ve been saving it for years, but as soon as I was thinking about my pushpin idea I knew I wanted to use that phrase. And a project was born.

To start, I put together the letters in Adobe Illustrator. I knew I wanted a font with accentuated fat and thin sections to emphasize the pin holes (this is RiotSquad, for any other typophiles out there).  I reversed the text and turned the opacity levels down to 10% (or you could just print a light gray color). I printed it on white cardstock.

(Sorry for the wonky shadows. It’s that pesky dining room chandelier again.)

Then I grabbed a…. wait for it… pushpin.

You may not recognize it. It’s a highly unusual and expensive tool.

To begin, I used the complicated technique of poking through the paper. I outlined the letter first and then filled the inside.

It took a little while to determine the proper depth as the pinhole grows in size in accordance to the pin.

And that’s all there is to it. I wouldn’t plan on finishing this project in one night. Your hands start to cramp. It’s a good leave-near-the-tv-and-work-on-it-aimlessly kind of project.

My only advice?

1. Be gentle. You can tear through the paper in the delicate parts.

2. Don’t use a death grip on the paper. You will wrinkle it. (If I was to do this again, I might put a piece of cardboard underneath so I wasn’t holding it so tightly and the pin could push through into the cardboard.)

Now I just need to decide how to display it.

It could be cool with a bright colored paper behind it. It’s also fun to hold it up to a light and let all the light come through the holes.

Only time with tell.

Project Cost: I will round up to 5 cents.

Have you tried pushpin art before? Can you think of a less expensive project tool?

Serendipitous Artistry

I love reading a good book and then noticing how things in my life crop up that I would have otherwise not appreciated.

I just finished reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany. I fully recommend it to anyone who considers themselves an artist in any sense of the word. It is a fiction novel based on historical facts.

The book , by Susan Vreeland, is about the life of Clara Driscoll, an employee of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the artist who is (now) credited with designing the famous Tiffany lampshades of the early 20th century. The story is filled with meticulous description of the glassblowing, glass-choosing, glass-cutting and glass application processes. As someone who has always wanted to try glassblowing, I found the details quite enchanting.

The book also wades through weighty issues such as the conflicts of artist collaboration, sexism in the professional arts, vocation versus marriage and sacrificing art for the sake of commercial means. Any artist will be able to identity with the creative process and ethical decisions Clara is forced to withstand.

While this book has still been lingering in my mind, I came across this cake design.

It is undoubtedly inspired by the Tiffany lamps.

Clara Driscoll

I love that the ideas of one woman has inspired other artists for over a century. And not only artists in glasswork, like herself, but bakers and writers. Even more so, that she did it all for the sake of art, not the glory.

(Actually, Clara and her 30 “Tiffany Girls” brought the lamps to fruition. And they couldn’t have done it without the male glassblowing and lead welding departments either. The true meaning of artistic collaboration.)

You see, it was only discovered that Clara was the actual designer of the lamps, not Louis Comfort Tiffany, in 2007.

Martin Eidelberg, an Art History Professor at Rutgers University recently came across a large amount of letters from Clara to her family and has been credited with making the discovery.

And while today Tiffany lampshades are not a completely unusual, albeit lovely, sight they were an unheard of in their infancy.

images via

I have always striven to fix beauty
in wood, stone, glass or pottery,
in oil or watercolor
by using whatever seemed
fittest for the expression
of beauty,
that has been my creed.

– Louis Comfort Tiffany

Cutting it Close

Strength. Amazement. Passion. Insightful. Genius.

All of those things come to mind when I come across the topic of my favorite living artist, Chuck Close.

Close attended U Washington and then Yale. He is an amazing painter. Amazing doesn’t even cover it. I’ve never seen another painter like him. Close is categorized as “hyper-realistic” and bases his works off photographs. I’ve read that he has never taken a commission for any of his paintings. He just paints people he knows.

Basically, just like Picasso, he was so good at painting that he got bored. Thus changes the art world from our generation.

“I threw away my tools”, Close said. “I chose to do things I had no facility with. The choice not to do something is in a funny way more positive than the choice to do something. If you impose a limit to not do something you’ve done before, it will push you to where you’ve never gone before.”

Not only does he paint. He creates his large scale pieces using fingerprints, handmade paper, pencils. I was able to see one of Close’s works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also, I was highly fortunate enough to be able to attend a traveling gallery full of pieces by Close.

The trip was was awesome. Absolutely unforgettable.

Close’s huge pieces took up all the wallspace. You would turn every corner and there was another piece astounding you, grabbing you from 25 feet away. The greatest part about his artistry is being able to study the works up close. Similar to Monet, studying Close from 6 inches away and 15 feet away are equally fascinating.

Close works in a grid method, often painting in cell-like shapes that make up an overall image. The reason for this is that he suffers from Prosopagnosia, meaning he is unable to recognize faces. He started painting so he would remember faces. Ironic, right?

I have trouble remember historical facts and recipe ingredients. Somehow I don’t think if I started painting them I would have ended up with the same outcome.

But there’s another reason he works in grid-form. One day he had a seizure and become paralyzed from the neck down. To this day he works from his wheelchair and has a paintbrush strapped to his wrist.

“Although the paralysis restricted his ability to paint as meticulously as before, Close had, in a sense, placed artificial restrictions upon his hyperrealist approach well before the injury. That is, he adopted materials and techniques that did not lend themselves well to achieving a photorealistic effect. Small bits of irregular paper or inked fingerprints were used as media to achieve astoundingly realistic and interesting results.”  (Wikipedia)

If that didn’t make him ridiculous enough (Sorry, am I gushing? Probably.) Close works with an intricate layering method. Whether it’s woodcut prints being layered and layered and layered and layered (x50) or pressing thumbprint after thumbprint, the end results are anomalous and unforgettable.

Close sometimes also works in a color separation layering method. Basically that means he squints at a picture and then draws all the yellow, draws all the reds, draws all the blues and then draws all the black.

Click here to see a full color separation process. Do it!

Seriously? Seriously. It’s mindblowing.

Okay. Enough with the drooling and jaw dropping. In my opinion he is the most influential artist in our lifetime.  Alright, now I’m starting to get over-the-top. Check him out.

On a lighter, and more random note, as I’m rapidly approaching 10,000 hits (whoa!) I just want to thank everyone for stopping in and reading my ramblings and leaving your fun comments.

I’m saying this because I met an adoring fan and avid reader of Withywindle (ha-ha, okay I’m kidding. Sort of.) while the husband and I were out last night.

Like my gangsta W and W for Withywindle? Eh? Eh?

And for the record, my husband is the one who took this picture. And this guy wasn’t a total stranger. Well, I’d never met him before, but he works with Moose and, apparently and self-admittedly, is quite the fan so I promised I would post this photo he sent me.

So here’s a shout out to Jimmy, Withywindle’s #1 fan.

Images from here and here