Thursday, June 26, 2014

Walking through Klimt Paintings

One of the coolest places we went on our trip to France was the Carrieres de Lumieres (the Quarry of Lights) in Les Baux de Provence, not far from Arles. Look at this place!!! 


It's an ancient quarry that's been converted into this incredible multi-media art space, a sound and light show like nothing I've ever seen before. This year the show is: "Klimt and Vienna: A Century of Gold and Colors," and basically it is like walking through Klimt paintings. They couldn't have chosen an artist better suited to this treatment. It's a dreamscape, created by seamless projection of paintings over every surface of this vast space. There's music. The show is a little under a half-hour. You just walk or stand still and look in all directions while the paintings surround you, moving and blending and coming to life. It's indescribable. You can stay as long as you want, see it as many times as you wish. From every vantage point it's a different show.

Here's some of the on-site signage describing the history of the quarry:

The Cocteau movie mentioned above is projected on perpetual loop in another semi-enclosed chamber of the quarry. So cool.

Schiele and Hundertwasser are also in the main show. I love Hundertwasser, and look how cool his paintings look at this scale:

And then--bonus--the Carriere happens to be in a beautiful village capped with an amazing sprawling ruined medieval castle you could spend all day exploring, not to mention see the trebuchet demonstration, the duel, and practice your crossbow skills.

Les Baux de Provence, set in the Val d'Enfer (Valley of Hell):

The castle:

Clementine put us in stocks and took our picture...

Local girls taking part in a religious procession:

These "santon" figures are everywhere in this region. There's a museum in town, and tons for sale in the shops:

The day we spent here was a highlight of the trip. 
A great day out with kids or without. Highly recommended! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Make it so...

It's good to be home and back to work!!!

The other night, late-ish, when I was too spent to write but not ready to sleep, I decided to do something about all the blank notebook covers staring up at me, looking all identical. Craft time! I keep notebooks for each project I'm working on--and some I have yet to work on but dream about. They're more than just collections of thoughts and scribbles and ideas. They're kind of like avatars, like they represent the unwritten book in physical form in the real world. That sounds hoopy. Whatever. I've always done them, and I keep all the old ones near me, and I love them. I use Clairefontaine hardcover lined journals, which have perfect paper and aren't too beautiful. You know what I mean by too-beautiful journals? You're afraid to write in them? These are workhorses. Plain but good quality. But I like them to be pretty, and to not be identical, so I collage them. (I posted a tutorial years ago.) I'm at the beginning of a slew of new projects (yay!) so I had a bunch of blue journals sitting around, indistinguishable from each other.

Now they look like this:

This one here is a page I pulled out of the gorgeous magazine FLOW (love love LOVE this magazine), complete with a quote by an artist other than me -- a quote that I very much want to be TRUE.

"I try not to over-perfect things, and I leave a lot of room to chance." 

If you know anything about my creative hangups, you know I struggle with perfectionism. So this quote is kind of like a blessing on my new project. MAKE IT SO. 

BUT. The fact is, now, with the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy behind me, I've had some revelations about my writing process and how it's changed, and how I've changed. I've been occasionally at work on a long blog post about this, so I won't go into detail here, but the thing is: I do leave a lot of room to chance. That has become my process: writing into the unknown, figuring it out as I go. I never used to think myself capable of this. It was too frightening. I wanted to know everything and be in control of everything before I ever wrote an actual sentence. Now I'm all about chance and discovery and spontaneity. It's awesome. And scary. And awesome.

And scary.

And I am so excited to be creating new books, new sets of characters, new plots, and to continue to grow as a writer, and continue to take on my own creative challenges and my persnickety brain. YAY WRITING!!! 

Now back to work...

And, ha, when I went looking for these photos on my phone I discovered someone had been taking some selfies while I wasn't looking...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lots of pictures of Arles

One of my favorite things about carousels is how the painted scenes are a mini travelogue of the city or region they're in. In the case of Arles, in southern France, this means: bullfighting, flamingoes, and Roman amphitheaters! Not so much what you think of when you think "France," right? 

But yeah. Black bulls and wild white horses, cowboys in the marshes, flamingos, and monumental Roman ruins. Also Van Gogh. He painted his most famous paintings here, but none of them remain in Arles. (Did you know he painted the sunflower painting to decorate the guest room in anticipation a visit from Gaugin?) We stayed four days in Arles and didn't begin to see the region, but loved what we did see. I'd go back there in a heartbeat.

Clementine took this picture the morning we snuck out early for croissants and let Jim sleep in.

Clementine fell hard for croissants. I guess she'd never had one before? Our first morning in France she had her first one. Her eyes went wide and she demanded, "CAN WE HAVE MORE CROISSANTS FROM NOW ON?"

Smack in the middle of town, this huge colosseum. First Century, yo! 

We rented a little house right next to it, and it was wonderful! We mostly did airbnb on this trip and got apartments instead of hotels. I'd been iffy about airbnb when they first started, but I'm pretty sold now. Tons of listings for apartments and houses to rent in all different price ranges. It's more personal than an agency, and in every case we found a decent place in an amazing location. This one was the cutest of the lot. (Well the London place was very cute too. I skipped London on the blog! I'll double back to it!)

For some reason, almost all the Arles listings on airbnb are way more amazing, artistic, and cute than in other cities we looked at.  Browse them here and see what I mean!

The Romanesque church of St. Trophime dates to the 12th Century and is GORGEOUS.

Clementine took this one too! She's getting pretty good :-)

We were lucky to be there on market day.

Found some lovely shops too. This one especially: Les Accessoires d'Audrey. SUCH fun stuff.

Last but not least, the view from the city of the nearby Abbaye de Montmajour:

Sigh. So nice. Honestly though, I'm really happy to be home!!!

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