Berkshires Weekend Pt. 1

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Grey & I drove up to the Berkshires to see our friends Ted & Betsy give a reading from their new book, How to Babysit a Leopard: and Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA. I'd never been to the Norman Rockwell Museum, and it was a real treat. 

Norman Rockwell's studio in Stockbridge, MA. © Carly Larsson 2015 

Norman Rockwell's studio in Stockbridge, MA. © Carly Larsson 2015 

After the reading, we ventured outside to check out Rockwell's studio (above). It's closed after October, but I snuck in a quick drawing of the exterior. It was a moody, grey day with soft diffused light. The deep azure mountains were blanketed in thick sheets of fog. I could get used to a studio with that view. We set out to capture some landscapes.

Landscape in the Berkshires © Carly Larsson 2015

Landscape in the Berkshires © Carly Larsson 2015

Grey had a vision for a photograph of a dilapidated barn in the woods, so for the rest of the afternoon, we went barn hunting. Driving aimlessly down winding country roads, we'd pull over every time we found one. I was freezing, so all these drawings were made from the passenger's seat with the heat blasting. 

western massachusetts barn
collapsed barn western ma

Grey deemed the barn (above, left) too dilapidated, having collapsed completely. 

barn western mass

This barn was not dilapidated enough.

barn western ma

This barn, leaning and sagging at angles I'm sure were not intentional, was juuuust right.

Montefioralle Winery

Wishing a very happy anniversary to friends Jenn + Nick Vigliotti! I am honored to have been commissioned by Nick to do this piece for their first anniversary. It is based off a photo taken on their honeymoon at Montefioralle Winery in the village of Greve in Chianti, Italy. Apparently this winery has a painting contest every year - artists meet at the winery, partake in a complementary wine tasting, and spend the day painting the premises. Winners receive cases of wine and their work reproduced on a limited edition bottle. I know where I'm going on my next vacation! 

Bethesda Fountain

Well, my daily blogging has officially become a thing of the past. Due to this hectic thing called life, I'm afraid I must slow the posts to a minimum of one per week. Monday I visited Central Park with my friend Audrey to draw at the Bethesda Fountain. There is so much going on in the park. While we drew, there was an opera singer performing behind us, and at least three pairs of models/photographers doing their thing. When I first arrived, there was a guy in a spiffy suit and nifty red socks playing the saxophone, but the opera performance behind us was apparently too much competition for him and, regrettably, he left before I had the chance to draw him. 

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park NYC © Carly Larsson 2014

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park NYC © Carly Larsson 2014

The fountain sculpture was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868. Stebbins was the first woman to receive a commission for a major public work of art in NYC. Pretty cool! The sculpture is also known as "Angel of the Waters" and refers to the Gospel of John where an angel blesses the pool of Bethesda, giving it healing powers. The four cherubs below the angel are supposed to represent temperance, purity, health and peace. I can get behind three of those symbols (hint: none of them are temperance). 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Late post today - deadline tomorrow! Here's a painting I did a couple Sundays ago at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Marsh Landscape

Here's another landscape painting I did while home on Cape Cod in September just as the colors began to change.

Cape Cod Landscape

Late posting today - it's going to be tough to keep up this week as I'm working towards a deadline. So here's the first of a series of short & sweet posts! There are a lot of these landscapes, but you just get one for now ;) This was done at the beach on Cape Cod just as the fall colors began to show. That's a big beautiful piece of driftwood that I'm obsessed with in the middle. Surprisingly this is the first painting I've done of it- I've taken about 10,000 photographs.

© Carly Larsson 2014

© Carly Larsson 2014

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I spent Sunday afternoon drawing at the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, located in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre urban oasis located between Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY. The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is a 3-acre expanse within the Botanic Garden, and was the first Japanese public garden in America, opening in June 1915. It is considered the masterpiece of Japanese landscape designer Takeo Shiota. The balance between natural and man-made elements is an important aspect of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden,  and each man-made element has a very specific meaning.

Shinto shrine at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Shinto shrine at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

The garden features a large pond in the shape of the Japanese character for "heart," and it really is the heart of the garden. Situated in the pond, among the pine groves, is a shrine dedicated to the Shinto god of harvest. The pine trees are a symbol of longevity and permanence in contrast to the ever-changing aspects of nature. Nestled in the pine grove, behind the Shinto shrine, is a bridge overlooking a small waterfall. The waterfall, in contrast to the pines, is meant to represent  constant change. 

Tōrō and bridge at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Tōrō and bridge at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Rocks and stones are used in a variety of ways around the pond. Some are believed to be conduits of "ki," meaning life energy, while others are sculptural religious elements. Pictured above is a tōrō, a Japanese stone lantern. Tōrōs were originally used in Buddhist temples to line and illuminate paths, and were considered an offering to Buddha. During the Heian period (794-1185), they began to be used in Shinto shrines. 

Koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Turtle and koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Turtle and koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

The pond is also home to many koi fish and turtles. The koi fish is a symbol of ambition, perseverance, courage, and success in Japanese culture due to its ability to swim against currents and travel upstream. They also symbolize longevity because of their long life spans (30-75 years, though legend has it that some koi have lived up to 200 years). Turtles are also considered a symbol of longevity and luck in Japanese culture.  In the above left image, the fish were competing for some potato chip crumbs being dropped in the pond (not sure how much that will contribute to their longevity, but they seemed to like them). The koi and turtles coexist peacefully within the pond (except where chip crumbs are involved - some turtles joined that competition). In the above right image, a turtle and koi fish seemed to be deep in conversation after their delicious snack. 

A small turtle suns himself at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden 

A small turtle suns himself at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden 

Last but not least, this tiny turtle was sunning himself on an equally-tiny rock. He was there for a long time, and he was stretching his neck out as if to say "I'm ready for my close-up now!" So as I was packing up to leave, I relented and quickly drew his portrait. He was a very still model. It was a beautiful, relaxing afternoon and I can't wait to go back to draw some more!