New in the Studios

Dragonfly Art Studios Nottingham Forest location is back in operation. In the last few weeks I have been starting commissions, taken an oil painting class and painted a few personal projects.

Dragonfly Art Studios. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dragonfly Art Studios. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The main commission I’m working on is the annual Night of Heroes award windows for Delaware Special Olympics.

Admiring the color of the pattern tracings to be cut. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Admiring the color of the pattern tracings to be cut. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’ve been filling this commission since the late nineties and even though it’s a lot of work, it’s not too stressful. This year it consists of three larger award windows and seven smaller awards.

From two big sheets of glass to boxes of tiny pieces ready to grind. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
From two big sheets of glass to boxes of tiny pieces ready to grind. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Grinding each piece to remove sharp edges and to help it fit the pattern. This takes a long time. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Grinding each piece to remove sharp edges and to help it fit the pattern. This takes a long time. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The pieces have now been wrapped with copper foil tape and are ready to be soldered. More glass in different shapes and colors will be added around these pieces before soldering. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The pieces have now been wrapped with copper foil tape and are ready to be soldered. More glass in different shapes and colors will be added around these pieces before soldering. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

A few weeks ago, I participated in an oil painting class at the Centreville Art Students’ League with artist Linda Harris Reynolds.

Artist Linda Harris Reynolds in her studio at the Centreville Art Students' League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artist Linda Harris Reynolds in her studio at the Centreville Art Students’ League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The goal of the class was to learn to paint from photos more successfully. Linda had some great tips and was able to paint alongside us. I love to watch her work. I chose a photo of Andreas that I took at the fish market in Bremerhaven.

Laying in the base colors of the painting. Photo by Sara Rose
Laying in the base colors of the painting. Photo by Sara Rose
Our class' progress after one week. Even though these painting are unfinished here you can see our distinct styles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our class’ progress after one week. Even though these painting are unfinished here you can see our distinct styles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The painting continues in my studio where I work on it a little each day and hope to finish soon.

Unfinished painting of Andreas. I hope to post a finished version soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Unfinished painting of Andreas. I hope to post a finished version soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Off task projects have included painting a bicycle helmet, birdhouses and a bat house for Nottingham Forest and some photography.

New bumble Bee bike helmet using acrylic paint. Drivers beware. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
New bumble Bee bike helmet using acrylic paint. Drivers beware. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
Bat and birdhouses in progress using acrylic paint. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Bat and birdhouses in progress using acrylic paint. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Protected. Photo of a seed pod found in Nottingham Forest. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Protected. Photo of a seed pod found in Nottingham Forest. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Fascination. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Fascination. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I also had a cat sitting job and have spent time with friends. All in all it’s been a pretty wonderful summer.

Miss Yoda playing with the paper from my copper foil tape. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Miss Yoda playing with the paper from my copper foil tape. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

BicycleDAM!

Not quite 4:00pm in Amsterdam a few days before Christmas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
 Amsterdam a few days before Christmas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Look out! Don’t cross yet! Watch out for the scooter! These phrases peppered our trip to Amsterdam. The bicyclists and the sheer number of bicycles are bananas. The bicycle path is SERIOUS business. We were warned about them in every guide book and video about the city. Do not step into these lanes carelessly and be as cautious about them as cars when crossing the street. The bike lanes host motorized scooters in many variations as well and everyone is keeping speed.

Crooked buildings in a crooked town. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Crooked buildings in a crooked town. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I think it’s great that so many people commute by bike. It’s interesting to see what it looks like when bicycles outnumber cars four to one in a city. Parking for bikes seems to be a problem. They crowd most sidewalks in front of stores and on residential streets. Small children ride seated with parents on the bike either front, back or in a covered cargo bin on special bikes. I didn’t see many under ten pedaling in the lanes. Fun fact: They say that they pull out 12,000 to 15,000 bikes from the canals every year.

Wet selfie of Andreas and the Author in Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Wet selfie of Andreas and the Author in Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas and I met my brother and his family in Amsterdam for the beginning of an eleven-day trip. Amsterdam, gray and drizzly was wonderful.

Swinging in the rain... Uncle Andreas, Auntie Fly and shorter nephew take a much needed museum break in Vondel Park Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Swinging in the rain… Uncle Andreas, Auntie Fly and shorter nephew take a much needed museum break in Vondel Park Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I loved the canals, the tall crooked houses and the friendly, English speaking people. It was a nice break from Bremerhaven, Germany to be able to speak English with someone and not feel embarrassed about it. We stayed in an Airbnb with steep staircases, a little kitchen and giggling neighbors in the next house over; twenty minutes walking distance from my brother’s hotel.

My brother's wife can knit anywhere. Here she is in a giant chair in their hotel lobby. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My sister-in-law can knit anywhere. Here she is in a giant chair in their hotel lobby. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Thank God Andreas has a good sense of direction. I was always pointing the wrong way.

We walked past this awesome cheese shop. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
We walked past this awesome cheese shop. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The six of us toured the city and the art museums. My brother’s family saw many more museums than we did for the kids. Andreas and I are pretty content to sit in a coffee shop and people watch. We did visit the Rijksmuseum which I loved. It wasn’t very crowded and there were some wonderful portraits.

Stained glass in the Rijksmuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass in the Rijksmuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A favorite painting from the Rijksmuseum.
A favorite painting from the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum also has some wonderful doll houses.
The Rijksmuseum also has some wonderful doll houses.

The Van Gogh Museum was lovely too but very crowded. I did enjoy seeing so much of his work in one space. I came away with a new feeling about the paintings.

Peeking over the crowds at the Van Gogh Museum.
Peeking over the crowds at the Van Gogh Museum.

Andreas and I travel differently. I’m used to traveling with some bread and cheese in my backpack, a couple of candy bars and bottle of water. He finds the best coffee and has it ground for the Airbnb, he likes nice restaurants and orders what he doesn’t know how to cook himself and wine. In the morning we look for bakeries and eat fresh bread and pastry. We stay in safe, clean places. I definitely prefer this type of travel. Ha ha.

Nephews entertaining themselves in a cafe' with a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Batman, Bunny Foo Foo. It's their own creation. Bunny Foo Foo trumps. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Nephews entertaining themselves in a cafe’ with a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Batman, Bunny Foo Foo. It’s their own creation. Bunny Foo Foo trumps. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The finer restaurants have swings. Or should have for nephews. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The finer restaurants have swings. Or should have for nephews. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The experience in the city was a little overwhelming at times but wonderful especially before Christmas. Get to Amsterdam, it’s unlike any city I’ve visited.

Appreciating the architecture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Appreciating the architecture in Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

 

 

Escape to Bremen

It was a rough week emotionally watching, listening to and reading about the situation with Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford in America. It brought up a lot of bad memories for me and it was heart wrenching to read about the memories of my friends and acquaintances online. Andreas and I had a unused train ticket from the summer and he wisely suggested a change of scenery. We choose Bremen because we’ve heard good things, we wanted to explore and it’s very close.

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At the Marktplatz in Bremen, next to the statue of Roland, in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Photo by: Andreas Muenchow

We began our day at the Kunsthalle, (art museum) fairly close to the train station. The current exhibit of the museum is about Love. I found the images interesting, but not extraordinary. Andreas, who can read the descriptions, stories and the themes of the exhibit in German was able to decipher its deeper intentions. The museum has an impressive collection of paintings from the late 19th and 20th century including some of my favorite German Expressionists.

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I love portraits. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum
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A woman artist at work painting. You don’t see this too often in a museum.

A couple of days before our trip I went on long walks around Bremerhaven and developed blisters on my feet from my shoes. So, I didn’t have happy exploring feet for Bremen. This made me grumpy going place to place, but when I took breaks and just sat watching the crowds I had some surprising photo opportunities that I would have ignored or walked by otherwise. For instance, I didn’t realize that there were song lyrics written on the walls in the Love exhibit until I took a break to rest my feet.

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https://www.kunsthalle-bremen.de/view/exhibitions/exb-page/what-is-love Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

When we had seen and experienced all that the museum had to offer we went to a little café that Andreas read about online. We were following google maps on his phone and got turned around in the wrong direction trying to follow the blue dots. We walked for a couple of blocks only to reverse directions a couple of times. My feet weren’t happy and wanted to stop walking. We noticed between two buildings a little alley with a café, a bar and few shops. I asked to walk there because it looked much more interesting than the street we were on. The area turned out to be the Schnoor Quarter, one of the oldest areas of the Altstadt or old town. There were winding cobblestone streets, little shops in medieval buildings full of “typical German” things that you might find at the Christmas market and a TON of tourists. Tiny streets with piles of tourists, the worst kind with strollers, small children and dogs. If it wasn’t for the tourists it would have looked very Diagon Alley. Andreas’ graduate student, Cassandra and I are introducing Andreas to Harry Potter movies this month.

Andreas did not enjoy this path and asked that we leave those streets as soon as possible. As we were weaving our way through we accidentally happened upon our café destination. The café was also quite crowded and ancient, we found ourselves sitting in a cubby hole in a back room with seven ladies we had never met before. Our waitress was an attentive elven goth who brought us wonderful pastries and coffee. Andreas and I had a good time recounting the paintings we had seen at the museum and what made them special to us. Since we were conversing in English we didn’t bother the ladies too much.

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Old, new, now. Finding St. Peter’s Cathedral in Bremen. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

Re-caffeinated we proceeded to our next destination on the list; a fancy restaurant for dinner. Again, Google maps twisted our sense of direction but we had hours until dinner to get lost and explore. This would have been fun if my feet had been in better shape. On our wanderings we found the Marktplatz and main square that you see in the photos of what to do in Bremen. St. Peter’s Cathedral, the statue of Roland and the statue, Town Musicians (A bronze statue with a rooster standing on a cat that’s standing on a dog that’s standing on a donkey from a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale) were all there. The tourists were gathered around to rub the donkey’s hooves. We took some photos and continued our quest.

At one point, walking through a residential neighborhood, my feet had had enough and we sat in a clothing designer’s red doorway. After we sat a dirty, friendly cat greeted and walked on us, then we noticed a wedding walking toward us down the opposite street making their way to a restaurant on the corner for their reception. Again, we would have missed this if we weren’t having a sit down.

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Here comes the bride. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

Blocks later we found the little restaurant and then still needing to fill an hour or two we walked to a busy street nearby in a neighborhood full of graffiti and murals to look for a place to hang out and grab a beer. We found a little table in the window of an empty bar with mid-century furniture and foosball tables. As we were drinking our beer Andreas said, “I think I just watched a drug deal.” Ok I said, not too unusual in a city. Then I noticed a very nervous looking man walking slowly down the sidewalk and three men following him in the street. I said, “I’ll bet that’s going to be another one.” It was…then another. What to do? Andreas took some photos. I asked him not to do anything while we were sitting there. It was a nice neighborhood, lots of families and kids walking by.

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I really like this mural but a mural grade acrylic applied with brushes would have looked better to me than spray paint. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

We walked back to the restaurant a little nervous because Andreas made it known to one of the guys dealing the drugs that he was watching him. Dinner was an event. The restaurant was very small with just a couple of tables on the lower level, a little below the street, of a corner house. As soon as the tables were filled a red velvet curtain was drawn in front of the door letting those passing by know that the restaurant was full for the evening. We had a choice between two fixed menus and between three to seven courses. The food was tiny, artsy and tasty. I didn’t take photos because cell phones were discouraged in the establishment. On their page is a good example of a tiny, artsy dish. A fancy place with a comical touch in the bathroom. The toilet was the old style with the tank near the ceiling and a chain. The handle of the chain was a wooden banana. Real towels at the sink, fancy, smelly soaps and a wooden banana. Same in the gents too.

After our sweet, tiny dinner we ran for the late train and returned to Bremerhaven.