Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Artists' Way

A few years back, I was introduced to a book written by Julia Cameron called The Artist's Way. Apparently, she lost her writing mojo for several years, but got it back after a lifestyle change. She attributes a lot of her success to having quit drinking and setting aside the purist, 'starving artist' mentality. As much as I joke about wine being my creative juice, it is impossible to write constructively after any libation. Perhaps, after a glass or two of vino there might be a fleeting burst of inspiration- but it's a very small window of time lasting just a sip or two.

In a nutshell, The Artist's Way is about discovering (or recovering) your creative self, which we all need from time to time. It was well written, but a little too spiritual for my taste. I kind of lost steam about half way through the book, but the two primary creative exercises stuck with me. One was called the Artist's Date, which is a weekly exploration of something- anything- that interests you. The exercise can take 5 minutes or 5 hours. Bottom line is to learn about something once a week, because who knows how or when new inspiration will strike. This has certainly led to personal discoveries of new foods, websites, authors, and to a few lovely new experiences- although none which I have written about. Not yet, at least.

The second exercise is called Morning Pages. Write 3 pages a day (in her world, it should be in the morning) about anything off the top of your head. Profundity is not important. They are to hone your writing skills and thought processes. Writing drills. The more you do it, the more comfortable (and possibly better) you become at it. It dawned on me today that this blog serves as my morning pages. It's been a long time since I've literally put pen to paper, so the idea of "writing" 3 pages a day seems like a drag. But given I am already a slave to my laptop and perpetually online, blogging seems a practical and appealing way of fine tuning the writing skills and maybe breathing new life into my creative mojo.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Visual Acoustics

Visual Acoustics... A most beautiful metaphor coined by the great 20th century photographer, Julius Shulman while taking pictures of Frank Ghery's Disney Concert Hall in L.A. (Gosh, I wish I came up with that!) This building resonates and Shulman's single shot captures the music of Ghery's design.

This is NOT a Shulman photo.

I had been chomping at the bit to see Eric Bricker's documentary about Julius Shulman , a revolutionary photographer who achieved his own fame by documenting the greatness of others (primarily the buildings of mid-century architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner and Richard Neutra). Even if you are not familiar with Shulman, you will certainly recognize some of his iconic images of 1940's and 50's Palm Springs, 1960's LA, and his famous shot of the Guggenheim dome. His pictures immortalize the mid-century movement and define how we perceive American modernism. Julius Shulman was a man of staggering vision and talent.

With that said, I was excited to learn the documentary was being screened at the Wexner Center here in Columbus. Kevin and I went with high hopes of having Shulman's extraordinary career laid out in film, but left overwhelmingly disappointed with the film itself. The storyline, which moved chronologically, strangely lacked continuity. Despite interviewing an impressive array of folk (including some of the architectural masters themselves), the dialogue was kind of confusing and random. The director had access to a vast amount of resources: legendary architects; passionate mid-century home owners; Shulman's personal photo archive (over which even the Getty drooled); and most importantly, the big man himself! Perhaps too much information ended up being a curse for the director...

Bricker couldn't pull it off and tried to pack way too much into an 85 minute film. It just didn't work for me. Not to mention, the film didn't linger long enough on Shulman's lovely pictures which, to my mind, was the whole point. It took seven years to make the documentary, so I wonder if a little more time and editing would have done a lot more justice to the man labeled as history's "greatest architectural photographer." Overall, not impressed with the film, yet blown away by Julius, who died in 2009 at the ripe old age 93 doing what he loved most until the very end. One of the more touching moments was when the Getty staff came to haul away 60 years of work from his personal archive. It seemed bitter-sweet, but at least he had final say in where and how his legacy would continue.

I admire Shulman's forward thinking and despite the mediocre film-making, I left the theater feeling inspired-and ready to buy that Palm Springs mid-century fixer-upper.

For now, I will be content with getting ourselves invited for a tour of the recently renovated Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, which had been up for sale for many years and only sold in 2008. We shall see....

The Urge to Blog

I'm not sure why, but I woke up this morning feeling the urge to set up a blog. All day I felt compelled to write, but didn't want to write a magazine article or an academic paper or entries for a travel guide. I was inspired by a few lovely friends (and family), who have lovely blogs containing the most lovely pictures of art and scenery and food, to share in a more intimate and introspective way than we do on Facebook or our professional websites.

Voila! The name 'All Things Lovely' popped into my head. As unoriginal sounding as it may be, the title sums up my take on life. I've always been a day-dreamy sort of girl, which might explain the endless fascination with medieval history and art and architecture-- and the occassional need for my lovely husband to lovingly yank my dreamy head out of the clouds.

As I type this post, I am also IMing with my sister Mandy Jones, who unknowingly forced me to think about the objective of this page. It's not like I need more writing projects on my plate. Mandy asked if my blog is going to be a "day in the life of Mrs. Foix," which it is not. My life isn't exciting enough to necessiate a daily update, nor is it drama-ridden enough to require venting via a therapeutic blog-- although, I do think her suggestion would be a fun name for a post-best-selling-novel blog about living in the south of France; ramblings about visiting market or drives down the coast to St. Tropez. (Kevin, I think I need that yank!)

With that said, All Things Lovely is intended to be a little memoir-ish, touching on travel, food, art and general thoughts on cultural things. I'm exciteable, so there will no doubt be frenzied posts about random new (new to me) "discoveries," which I find happens almost weekly these days. But most importantly, I just want readers to leave this page feeling positive and happy and lovely.

This is my very first post, so I'm really just testing the blogging waters.

I promise it will get better.