Wednesday, 27 April 2016

New Orleans, Nawlin or Nola

This post is way overdue! I just didn't come around to go through my pictures from my trip to New Orleans until yesterday. And so yes, I went to New Orleans!!! I was there between the 8th and 18th of  this month. A very good friend of mine (another expat wife I got to know when we were both living in Rizhao) Rain invited me to join her to a trip to New Orleans. Of course I said yes... =D
It was a long trip getting there, but it was so so worth it! We had an absolute fabulous time together, and I would do it again anytime!!

New Orleans. Or 'Nawlins' and 'NOLA' as the local people call it. (NOLA= NewOrleans LouisianA) We lived in the old french quarters, the old heart of New Orleans. It was a very colourful experience. The city slept late in the morning and then came to life in the afternoon and evenings. There were music playing everywhere in the more 'famous' streets. It definitely is a city that you have to experience to believe. It is also a very colourful city. The old houses were all painted in happy colours, and there was a potpourri of bright yellow, purple, green, red and blue houses. The French quarters lived up to its name, it definitely had an old european feel to it!

There was one street, the Royale, that was filled from one end to the other with art galleries and art sold out in the streets. I really enjoyed that part. It would have been fun to take part of it and try and sell my stuff there with the others!

Bourbon street was a big disappointment. It has become so commercialised and 'touristified' that it has nothing to do with the old authentic New Orleans anymore. It was filled with cheap (as in slutty) strip tease bars, pubs, neon lights, and very much filled with drunken people of all ages.
If you want to go and listen to good local bands playing while having a drink in the evenings you need to go to the Frenchmen street in the eastern part of the french quarters. I guess that this is how Bourbon street used to be.

When we arrived it was the French quarter festival weekend,  so bands were playing in every almost every corner of the city. It was packed with people!! We listened to some quite amazing things! The rest of the week was a 'normal' week, so then you found small bands playing only in the more popular streets during the day.

The last thing that you can not avoid experience in NO is the food. Jambalaya, Gumbo, Chowders, Crawfish, fresh oysters and more different creole dishes which names I have forgotten. Most of it I really liked, but a few were a little bit too spicy for me.

Now I will stop rambling and share with you some pictures. Quite a lot of pictures actually, it was difficult to choose just a few... ;)

This was our home during our stay in New Orleans. It was a time-share apartment tucked away in the middle of the French quarters.

My beautiful travel companion Rain on 'our' street.


Beautiful details.

Did I say colourful already?!? =D 

The iron work on many of the houses were amazing!

It looks quite inviting, wouldn't you say?

Taken out from the bus window: Outside of the city centre you had these villa that had an array of european influences in their architecture. Greek columns, german and french castles, and then houses like this one. It looks like something from a fairytale.

Beautiful porches.

Carnival and festival feeling all over the city.

Bands playing and people dancing during the French quarter festival.

People waiting for the bands in the big Jackson square to start playing.

Bands playing in the street.

And this is the same street but after the festival during a normal day.

Old fashioned blues and jazz

Music and art.

Yes, Darth Vader. Dancing. Who knew...

Art, art, art...

We also found a night market by the Frenchmen street I mentioned earlier.

You could find everything from paintings, jewellery and sculptures to photography.

Segway guided tour around the city.

Bourbon street.

Rain and her mom with one of the many mules that you could see pulling cabs around the city with tourists.

New Orleans graveyard. 

The Esplanade. A little run down, but very charming. 

And then the food! We went one day to a cooking class, and we learned to make crab and corn chowder, shrimp gumbo, Fosters banana and pralines. Look at the upper part of the picture and you can see the big mirror in the ceiling so that we could follow along what the cook was doing. He did not only teach us how to make the dishes, but with the food he also told the history of the city.

Shrimp gumbo. This was so nice that I bought the spice mixes for it and have tried making it at home. It was delicious!

I do not like to eat raw oysters, so I got mine grilled with garlic instead.

The crawfish, Jambalaya, and three different gumbos. Bean, sausage and shrimp again. The crawfish were tiny and too spicy for my taste. I prefer them the way we make them in Finland!

Spices as far as the eyes can see...

And last the pralines. These you could by in almost every shop, and the city was full of different praline houses. It is essential a butter and brown sugar mix candy with different nuts. 

I loved the city, and I would not mind returning there at all!!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

It has been raining for a few days now, but the air is nice and warm. I actually enjoy this kind of weather. The only thing missing is some thunder claps and lightening… I am sitting here with a cup of tea, the balcony door open and a warm quilt on my knees while writing. 

Studio update:

This is a small 20x20cm canvas. Collage and acrylic on canvas. The first layer of acrylic is done on the bird, and it needs a few more layers before I can call it done. It looks a little bit funny without a beak, and I think that I need to adjust the position of the eyes a little bit as well. That is one of the great things with taking progress photos and see the work on the computer screen, you see it a little differently than staring at it in real life. You start to notice those small inaccuracies and can correct them. This little fella is a continental Long-tailed tit that I saw in Spain a couple of years ago. He was sitting high up on a telephone wire looking down at me trying to get a picture of him.

This Crested Grebe has me really excited! For some reason I really love how he is turning out. I have the first layer of oil done, and I will finish him this week! I think I can see a small series of grebes coming along… I am so lucky to have found a group on Facebook called 'Photos for artists', where people are sharing their photos copyright and royalty free for artists to use as reference material. This grebe is donated by Russ Bridges.

It's a while since I did anything to the tern I am working on. For some reason the background bothered me, and I decided to experiment and try something else. I am not sure if the umber helped, but I am not done yet.

20x20cm canvas. I'm thinking of painting a small bluebird for the first time in my life. I have never seen one in real life, but I thought that I would make an exception to my rule of only painting birds I have seen this time...

I have shown this background before, but it has gnu through a color change since last. It was suppose to become a background for a Rook I planned in my art journal, but now I am not sure anymore. I will continue painting on it and then see what it says!

I went to the art shop a few days ago, and I found these small canvas boards. They are just a little bit bigger that my hand. I have covered them all in book pages, and I think I am going to keep them quite simple. I have no birds planned yet. I need to go through all my photos and see if somethings pops out...

Finally I have a finished painting to share with you. It is the painting that I filmed last week. In the video I only painted with acrylics, and then I put down a few layers of oil on the bird of camera. 20x20cm canvas. Continental Long-tailed tit, photo reference by Peter Skillen from the Facebook group I mentioned earlier.

I wish you all a beautiful Sunday!