happy birthday to you (and balthus, too)

A big wahoo to those for whom an actual birthday date occurs once every four years. (Any blogs out there that warrant a birthday hug? Does anyone have a first post dated 2/29/04 that we should give a look-see?)

:balthus, b. february 29, 1908, in paris, france. self-portrait, date unknown.


a little dab 'l do ya*

I welcomed the month of love with an explosion of red, but I'm bidding farewell using a lighter touch. A splot, a pat, a hint - it's enough.

So long, février. No worries. When you come around next year, we (here in the contiguous 48 + 2) will be sportin' a new president. We better not screw that up again.

*Brylcreem advertising tagline, c. 1950s+

:images studio ilse, shoot factory


vivienne in pink

Vivienne Westwood, arguably the most influential British fashion designer of the twentieth century, revels in incendiary provocation and a defiance of convention, but nonetheless finds beauty and inspiration in the past. This apparent contradiction, to attempt to upset the status quo while clearly having a consciousness of tradition and history, made Westwood the most representative designer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's 2006 exhibition AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion. Given Westwood’s violation of expectations, it's really no surprise that the designer so associated with torn T-shirts, bondage jackets and punk rock (see last image, below) is also capable of creating astonishingly rigorous examples of tailoring and dressmaking.

At the time, Westwood said that this dress was her most important work to date. Comprising a beautifully constructed and boned bodice as its base, the gown has been draped, fitted and spiraled around the body in one unbroken length. Yes, one unbroken length. It is an aesthetic marvel, all the more important for the virtuosity of Westwood’s approach, at once conceptually reductive and technically audacious. While the gown might evoke the French haute couture of the 1950s and an attendant impression of retardataire elegance, Westwood’s subversion is in her breaking of any prior conventions of draping and dressmaking.


:images metropolitan museum of art; vivienne westwood (british, b. 1941). “propaganda” dress, fall/winter 2005–06. lilac silk faille; shoes, autumn/winter 1990. hot pink crocodile-embossed patent leather.


dianamuse feature: yellena's temple and allusion


If you haven't met Yellena James, allow me to introduce her to you. Yellena is a 29-year-old artist who lives on the Central Oregon Coast with her musician husband and two cats, Masha (good kitty) and Fisher (bad kitty). Yellena explores flow, movement and organicity in her extravagantly fanciful creations. She loves to invent new relationships between shapes and colors from those that exist naturally.


Yellena was born in Sarajevo and lived there until the end of the civil war, in 1995. During the war, she would sneak past snipers to attend a high school that was dedicated to the arts. That's where she grew passionate about her own art. The school had electricity most of the time—which meant heat and music—and like-minded people who just wanted to create and get away from the horrors of the world outside. After moving to the United States (Orlando, FL), Yellena received a BA in graphic design from UCF and eventually made her way to the West Coast.


From a (pilfered) interview on etsy, used here with Yellena's permission:
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?

When I was seven years old, I was in a city-wide competition to do a drawing that had a '21st-century' theme. I drew a bunch of robots wearing aprons and baking cookies. I wish I still had that drawing. It took second place.


What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

I think that my works come from a desire to put something in front of myself that I would really want to look at later. Inspiration is everywhere: the works of other artists, books, design blogs, catalogs, my husband, my sister (danca dot etsy dot com), my friends, vintage patterns, fine-point pens, velvet paper, felt, deep-sea creatures, Julie Mehretu, music, cacti, moss, wallpaper, micro-cosmos, macro-cosmos, pebbles, plants, animals, the universe. That's about it.

What are your favorite materials?

Pens, inks, markers, good quality paper. I also love to work with acrylics. I could spend hours in an art supply store, just touching everything.


:yellena's shop, blog, gallery


genus lilium

I offer these lovely, gentle botanicals in marked (acknowledged) contrast to the post that follows.

The large folio prints are from a limited edition of A Supplement to Elwes' Monograph of the Genus Lilium, published by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1960 and 1962. The illustrations are by Margaret Stones, one of the foremost botanical artists of the 20th century.

:studio botanika; from top: washingtonianum, michiganese, nanum, pardalinum, henrici


I just don't get why 300 wasn't nominated for a Special Effects or Art Direction AA. Bummer.

Ah, well. Here's my little tribute to this visual feast of a film. Spaaaah...taaaans!

A panel (above left) from Frank Miller's graphic novel 300. On the right, the corresponding scene as it appears in the film. And the book, 300: The Art of the Film, is terrific (cover art below) - it might be a good choice for those who appreciate the film's artistry, but can't stomach the graphic violence in motion.

:images movie web


get ready, get set

Here's a quick, primarily pictorial, rundown of films nominated for an Oscar this year in the category of Visual Brilliance (a.k.a. Best Art Direction). My guess is that the Award will go to either Sweeney Todd or Atonement. I'd love to see Sweeney Todd take it, if only for the fact that the film stars Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman. Talk about visual gratification.

American Gangster
Art Direction: Arthur Max
Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino

(Focus Features)
Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

The Golden Compass
(New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Art Direction: Dennis Gassner
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
(DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

There Will Be Blood
(Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Art Direction: Jack Fisk
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

:the oscars®

hello again

Thanks for leaving such swell comments and emails while I was away this week. 'Twas a fine trip, but it's good to be back.



off we go

I'm taking a break for a few days--traveling with loved ones to visit loved ones we don't see often enough.

Wishing you delight in the week ahead.

:ivan aivazovsky, view of constantinople by moonlight, 1846. oil on canvas. the russian museum, st. petersburg, russia.


a year in flowers

An offering to those of you who are kind enough to drop in for a moment. Each of these lovely florals graced our home sometime within the past twelve months. Most were sent by friends or family - some we snapped up at the corner produce & flower shop. Flowers are magical, I think; they can instantly transform space, mood, outlook. These have given me much pleasure this past year. I'm so happy to share them with you here.