We started out yesterday with a 6am wake-up call so we could get to our first Train ride. Sans coffee or breakfast, we got to the Embankment Tube station before 6:45. We drug our big fat American luggage down the 68 steps (Judy counted) from our London flat over to the Tube, on the Tube to Euston Station… then pulled them over to San Pancras International Train Station. Ok… by 7am, I am sweating like a pig because one, it was a workout… I’ve got a nylonish backpack strapped to my back (where Harold is strapped to the outside of), I have my computer case, and then my medium sized rolly luggage. AND two… London is experiencing a heatwave… so it was getting warm already!
Once inside (still no breakfast/coffee, mind you) we make our way to the Eurostar security line (it’s international, so it’s like the border… we put in our paper ticket into a machine and it okays it… then you go thru the scanner thingie… like airports except you don’t take off your shoes… and there is a nice person there helping you throw your luggage and belongings onto the conveyor belt. You go thru to the little window where the French guy didn’t even look at me. Then it was to the lounge until our train was at the platform. This was our 20 minutes to go stand in another line for breakfast. Cafe Nero. It had some yogurt (which by the way, London and France make the BEST YOGURT EVER! I am telling you!) in a honey flavor, we brought this onto the train, deciding that coffee should wait until our luggage was on the train (they would have coffee on the train).
So the Eurostar Train went thru the Chunnel, which was only about 20 minutes of our trek, to Paris… where we’d take the Metro to Gare d’Lyon where we’d hop the TGV to Aix. The Metro is a nicer subway train in itself, but the station is more confusing… or maybe it’s just that everything is in French. But we had a little layover there at Gare d’Lyon, which was good because we were having ticket issues. The little ticket machine wouldn’t print ours… so, we went to the ticket line… and in typical French fashion.. huge line, 2 windows open. Judy theorizes that they are so long because the French want to give you time to figure out the problem before you get to the window. Which we did…we tried another ticket machine. But not before we witnessed a “line-jumper” which we were warned about in the book, “The Sweet Life in Paris”…. it was fantastic, because this older fellow cut twice… the second time he cut in front of a woman with several small kids… uh uh… she gave that guy so much grief… yelling and elbowing him after he pushed past her to the window. She would not let him win! And it worked! He went back to the line… and people kept pushing him back further in the line until, I presume, he missed his train and gave up. Such drama francais!
I will leave this blog entry here, as it is quite long. I will pick up from Paris to Aix in the next entry.
Well, my watercolor palette got a bit, er, messy in traveling. The colors that apparently weren’t dry ran. But luckily, it warn’t too bad. The red didn’t infiltrate, the black just jumped to the other side of the palette and the sepia mixed with the black a bit, which isn’t total disaster.
Here’s a page… ode to the Costa Bowl of coffee… I haven’t actually been doing too much watercoloring as yet. Mostly it’s just been pen. I find that we’ve just been on the move mostly… trying to fill in our time with doing stuff with not a whole lot of loitering down time. This page was done at the little Costa Italian Coffee joint at Embankment Place (under the Waterloo Bridge). It’s where we’ve been getting our joe every morning. The Baristas are friendly, Middle eastern… but I always have to ask them to repeat what they say as their accents are really thick.
The Cartoon Art Museum is this charming little place on Little Russell Street, London, not far from The British Museum. It houses over 200 original cartoons and comics… including an engraving by Hogarth, Cruikshank and Searle (as in Searles’ Cats). They also had originals of Posy Simmonds (Fred the Cat), and Steve Best and a lot of stuff from the now defunct Punch Magazine. Granted, many of these names and titles I’ve not heard of, like Simon Thorp’s Mrs. Brady Old Lady, and Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre, but I love discovering new things! Comics on this side of the pond are just different… they even have their own Dennis the Menace (who looks more menacing than ours).
The museum itself is small. There’s an upstairs with random original drawings by a variety of cartoonists as well as a room for creating toons aimed more at kids, a main room which changes every-so often and a permanent gallery with the history of cartooning in Britain. The rotating show was on toys… I just missed the show on Ronald Searle, to my disappointment. But the “toy show” was impressive with animation sketches with a Wallace & Grommit or two, Famous Fred, and Morph among others.
I met a budding cartoonist who remarked on my sketching… she was from Dallas, Texas. I gave her a Squid sticker and she asked me lots of questions like, what sort of pens do I use? and how do you draw your character from the side? We chatted for a bit and I gave her a Micron 01 and a sketch of Randie. She seemed pretty happy.
The gift shop was impressive for the museum size with lots of different books on cartoons and cartooning. By this time in the afternoon, my cohorts were getting tired and restless, and I didn’t really get a good go at the books. My hope is to return to get a better look at the selection and make an informed purchase. If anything, The Ronald Searle exhibition book will come home with me.
One last thing… they didn’t let you photograph individual works at the museum, but you could take general museum photos… so I have a few posted on Flickr. Have a look.
Okay, it’s 7:45 California time… and its like 4 in the morning here. It’s warm… and I’m wide awake.
The apartment here is just up from a swinging place called Gordon’s Wine Bar. It’s a little hole in the wall… you go downstairs into a cave-like place.. and there’s barrels and all manor of wines, ports, sherries and the like. But part of this establishment is this outdoor corridor that runs along the Queen’s Embankment Park. It’s got barrel tables and Londonites and tourists alike buy their bottle/carafe/glass of wine and sit all along this corridor. It’s a very happening place. The clinking of glasses and hum of the crowd is quite nice… except for the “F-this and that” girl who was somewhat irksome.
Jet lag is a crazy thing… so forgive any grammatical errors and such… But, in order to get accustomed, we’re staying awake…
And so from our 8ish hour flight (this seemed fast to me) on British Airways, we consumed a good lot of caffeine at Costa Coffee in The Death Star (I mean Terminal 5)… then we caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington (which was entirely done up in scaffolding and remodeling materials)… we topped up our Oyster cards (that we had from the last trip) and took the Tube to our place in the York Building just alongside the Thames River. The Tube was super screechy… and a nice Brit lady told us that when it gets warm and dry (like today is) the trains squeal a lot more. When we got off the train, there was an orchestra playing Porgy & Bess at the Queen’s Embankment Park (a spit from our flat). And for that matter, it seems like everywhere we go, they are playing American music.
We dropped our bags at the flat… and proceeded to the HaHa Bar & Grill… by our place. Keaton, our American Actor waitress, chatted with us and we happy to have “lemonades” (Sprite with a lime) and some rather tastey wraps to nourish our poor beat, traveling selves. From there… a walk about that took us to the comic book stores all along St. Martin’s in the field and whatever street that turns into. In a few days we’ll return to visit the Cartoon Museum… it was nearly closed when we walked by.
We strolled by a local convienience market and picked up eggs and naan bread for dinner… the naan bread was super scrumptious… and we put some Stilton (how British of us) on the eggs. In just a bit there’s another walk and a pub visit… There’s a pub nearby called the Theodore Bullfrog… maybe a lemon Shandy there? or just a glass of sherry.
Okay, I have to admit something… that I watch and love Project Runway. As a creative person, I like to see the creative process and the skillful manipulation of materials applied to a challenge. I love to see creative people’s ideas, style and slant on life. I enjoy ‘getting to know’ each contestant and finding out their personalities and their quirks… but it hasn’t always been so.
In the past, I have stuck to my “I hate so-called-reality-tv”. Who acts normal while a camera is filming them? And editors and producers can tweak footage to get a particular slant or perhaps overemphasis an event. Too, product placement and sponsors infiltrate the show. “Use the Bluefly wall responsibly”… and that bugs me!
Imagine how excited I was when NPR did a quick story on Bravo’s new show “Work Of Art”. I immediately set my watch to showtime.
So I’ve tuned in to the two aired episodes now… and despite the formulaic structure and cheezeball appearance of that sex-in-the-city star (Mrs. what-do-YOU-do?) in episode one, I have found the show to be kind of fun. It reminds me of the art class exercises and classroom antics I experienced in college. There’s the really good artist person who’s rather annoying and that everybody talks about behind his back; the older artist who’s on a different wavelength, the really earnest and very talented artist who is under-appreciated, the guy who’s had very little training and is a complete art-naive, and ARTgirl, with the artsy haircut.
I even like the judges… notably Jerry Saltz, who seems to know what he’s talking about… but am still trying to decipher the Tim Gunn stand-in, French Swiss accent guy, Simon de Pury.
So early on… Abdi Farah is who I am rooting for. All-around nice guy and talented, I like his style. It’s no wonder he’s been in the top 3 the first two shows. And Miles… I want to throw things at him… he’s talented… yes, but I couldn’t help but think that he was the “third butt-*7&%” in the last night’s gallery show (where he actually slept on his piece… and what was the object he fOUND at the refuse center? how did he use it again? because I missed that).
Anyhoo… So who else is watching this show? Throw me some comments.
It’s a new dawn… and the old blog is gone… This is the new and improved site. I broke the last one… something good. So this is a fresh start! I like fresh starts!
Sooo… To start things off:
First Friday Art Walk is upon us. It’s a bit cyclical, isn’t it?
June 4th, 2010, people. The weather will be lovely. The drinks will be chillin’ in the sink. And Judy’s famous “Oatmeal Everythings” will be waiting on a plate for you. AND…. if you whisper “Green Fairy” at the door, you’ll find something special in your drink.
5 E. Gabilan Street, Suite 205, Salinas, (If you’re not in California, you may want to skip this one).
Fun starts at 5pm and lingers until 8pm. The Cartoonery is upstairs above First Awakenings… the entrance is on Gabilan Street. Look for the sandwich board.
… expression is the conveyor belt of art… or is it the other way around?