Monthly Archives: June 2014

Design Influence: Japanese Prints

Ever since I discovered ukiyo-e as an undergraduate at Durham’s Oriental Museum I have been fascinated by prints, especially woodblocks or woodcuts. Woodcuts have been produced in Europe since about 1400, but ukiyo-e prints are nothing like these typically monochrome


works. Ukiyo-e is perhaps best known for its images of the “floating world” characters  – actors, sumo wrestlers and beauties -but I fell in love with the landscape artists Hokusai


and Hiroshige.


In Europe and America, ukiyo-e became a source of inspiration for the Impressionists, the Aesthetic Movement, and the Post-Impressionists






but by the turn of the century the tradition was virtually dead in Japan.
In 1906 San Francisco was hit by a devastating earthquake, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. Reconstruction plans were made almost immediately, and in 1915 the Panama Pacific International Exposition showcased the city’s recovery. Joseph Pennell – perhaps the best-know American printmaker of the time (and friend and biographer of Whistler) – was scheduled to be a juror for the event, and he encouraged a handful of local artists to launch the California Society of Etchers (CSE) in preparation. One of the founder members was Pedro J. de Lemos, who also helped to organise the California print exhibit at the Exposition. The influence of Japanese woodcuts is clearly seen in his work.


The same Exposition featured Japanese prints which so inspired William S. Rice that he resolved to become a woodblock artist.  He went on to win Best Print at the 1933 CSE show.


At roughly the same time, Frank Morley Fletcher wrote Wood-Block Printing: A Description of the Craft of Woodcutting and Colour Printing Based on the Japanese Practice”, credited with introducing the technique of Japanese coloured woodblock printing to the West. In 1924 he became director of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts, where he is believed to have (briefly) taught Frances Gearhart.


Also in 1915, in Japan, publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō coined the term shin-hanga for his attempt to revitalise traditional ukiyo-e art. Ironically, shin-hanga was influenced by Impressionism and directed at a United States market. And we come full circle…




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Filed under Art, California, Crafts, Decor, Pinterest, Prints

Monday Pinspiration: Wine Barrels

You already know that my Lovely Man and I like wine
Our new spa is in place and functional, if not very pretty. So I was trawling my favourite source of inspiration for ideas about how to make it look less of an eye-sore when I found this:


Very nice but not really practical.
But then I followed a related pin and stumbled upon the idea of a wine barrel. I admit that thoughts of the Duke of Clarence did cross my mind, but when the barrels look like this…


{source: Pinterest}

…how could I resist?

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Filed under California, Gardens, General, House Updates, Pinterest

Friday I’m in Love: Photomanipulation Applications

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I love to take photographs. I haven’t really got into photo editing yet but I do like to play around with the images on my iPad. here are some of the apps I’ve recently discovered.

Plastic Bullet. Adds a vintage feel (in a variety of shades) to photos.20140619-083723-31043036.jpg
Waterlogue. Turns a photo into a watercolour.20140619-083739-31059951.jpg

{Original on the left in both cases}

PicFrame. Make photo collages. You’ll recognise these from the blog!IMG_0409
What are your favourite photo apps?

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Filed under Crafts, General, Photo Challenge, Photography

Weekend Getaway: Central Coast and Wine Country

My Lovely Man and I recently did a quick trip to Morro Bay and Paso Robles. I forget now how we first discovered the area, but it has become our default destination (accommodation permitting) whenever we need to recharge our batteries…and our wine cellar!
Morro Bay is a coastal town about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s named after a distinctive crown-shaped rock in the bay.
IMG_2295 The rock and its environs it are marine protected areas due to the wildlife (specifically peregrine falcons) that live there. The bay has a lovely beach with spectacular views,
IMG_0391 and the lagoon is a great place to watch birds and other creatures.
IMG_0390 It’s also only 30 minutes from Paso Robles, which makes it a great place from which to explore this wonderful wine region. Each time we visit we swear we won’t buy much wine, but each time, we do. Here are some of the wineries we love:
Adelaida Cellars
Alta Colina
Halter Ranch
Tablas Creek Vineyard
Terry Hoage Vineyards
And this time we made a new discovery…Re:Find, IMG_0389a distillery that uses saignėe (the juice removed before fermentation) to make some amazing grape-based spirits. Oh, dear…

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Filed under California, General, Nature, Photography, Travel

Friday I’m in Love: Lilacs (again)

While lilacs (syringa) can survive in California, they need attention to really thrive. Lilac in England is a completely different proposition. Given the minimum of care, it typically runs a little wild in a garden hedge or the back of a border.
But when the results look (and smell!), so good, why not?20140612-204910-74950908.jpg

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Filed under Flowers, Gardens, Happiness Project, Plants, Travel

Descanso in May: continued

There was a lot to see in Descanso besides roses last month. The tulips have been replaced with a colorful combination of daisies…zinnias, osteospermums and marguerites:
A wonderful combo of silver and pinks:
Love these rustic obelisks!
And these arches:
This beautiful magnolia was flowering in amongst the oaks.
And aren’t these seeds heads adorable?

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Filed under Descanso Garden, Flowers, Gardens, Happiness Project, Nature, Plants

Descanso in May: Roses

Roses!IMG_0340 What I love about Descanso’s rose garden is that it’s not over-manicured as so many seem to be. Some of the more vigorous types are allowed to get nice and big,
IMG_5466 and there is an abundance of climbing roses, as well as a good mix of other plants
IMG_5477which make it feel more garden-like and less of a specimen collection.
Some of the arches are more industrial than romantic
IMG_5487but when covered in roses
IMG_5473I can forgive the need for low-maintenance structures!

For once I arrived early enough to be able to photograph the beautiful fountain without interruption.
IMG_5476 It reminds me of fountains I’ve seen in some of the California Missions we’ve visited – which makes sense now that I’ve seen this plaque: IMG_5481 I love the mix of practical plants such as olives, citrus and pomegranates with drought-tolerant yet decorative plants. IMG_0341


Filed under Descanso Garden, Flowers, Gardens, Nature, Plants