Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bucket of Blood

I have finally traveled and returned to my start off point. What a long trip. Now back home in Sydney. Arrived home and had to jump right back into work, in other TimeZones no less ! That's ok, after the weekend I will feel more rested and getting back to a home routine again.

I have just downloaded my photos, hundreds of them taken while away. Now downloaded onto my home computer (missed my Mac while I was gone, traveled work's Thinkpad, not nearly as nice !). This past weekend, on my way home I stopped in western USA and visited a quaint old mining town in the Nevada mountains, near the border with California. Virginia City was a silver mining boom town in the 1800s. It still has a lot of character and one of my favorite signs there is the Bucket of Blood saloon. I can also tell you there is a nearby ATM and if you get $ dispensed from it, your bank receipt will say "Bucket of Blood" on it for the location. Which might be very amusing for someone reviewing a travel expense claim to see and wonder about ?!

Virginia City is full of old western things like saloons, and bars. A Suicide Table, where someone called his life over after losing money in a card game. Making a living or a fortune finding silver there must have been difficult, but maybe it was also exciting for the people who got lucky and found what they were seeking. Here is the Main street of the town. If you walk along the street shown here, you step on very uneven timber planked sidewalks. They are original and have a lot of character (but they are very wobbly, so watch your step !).

In the brilliant sunshine of a hot summer day, way up in the mountains I saw this old bucket of rust near an old building, maybe an old rail terminal with a lot of junk piled about and around it. This old truck was interesting though. I think I feel some paintings with rusty colors coming on here ! I know I have more rusty things in my photo library to add to this one. Experimenting with paint textures in the rusty bits could be fun.

More soon, with more paintings soon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wheels in China

My travels are now winding down, I will be doing more artsy posts soon. But one short one here, about wheels seen in China. I asked colleagues in China what was a popular vehicle for people to buy for private use (as in not taxi fleet, other business, or fleet vehicles), as this is becoming more prevalent and popular in big cities in China. One was the Chery QQ. And here it is, cute and small indeed. A Chinese made vehicle, and this one is bright red, with great stickers on it too !

And this is a more practical sight, a bicycle repair station at the corner of a busy road in Beijing. This included a cart with repair supplies, a leaning stack of tires and innertubes, and an umbrella for shade (weather was hot, 38 C). Business was a bit slow, but perhaps it will pick up later ?
More soon, some art posts this weekend, from US West Coast. Bye for now !

Friday, July 17, 2009

Green Doors & Windows

Hello, you find me still moving on, this trip is almost over, just another week !
While I looked at my pics, I saw a lot of interesting doors and windows. I may have mentioned I keep wanting to photograph these, so I think I will be painting some of them too, or using them to inspire something !

Here are a few I saw along the way when in Spain, in no particular order or importance. But all featuring green colors. I liked this one with the dog, lazily guarding a shop front. What a relaxed attitude !

More soon, I will be catching up on the weekend. This week has been a whirlwind of work !

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Hi All, moving on tomorrow...leaving UK and bound for Montreal. Another new destination. I continue to collect photos for the photo library and for editing for art compositions.

Meantime, I leave you with a real life practical puzzle of sorts. What is the street number of this house/doorway ?!

Bye now--have a great day. More next post ;)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Egg of Happiness

Hello Again :) I spent mid-week in Sofia, Bulgaria, with a tall agenda of work for my stop there. So not much time or opportunity to look around, but the weather was much better than last time I was there in March, when it snowed on the day I left ! A colleague from the local office took me out to see a few of the pretty buildings on streets at the city centre in Sofia.

And I saw a few things that were expected, lovely old buildings, Eastern Orthodox cathedral, and churches. It was a nice walk and I enjoyed the weather, after being cooped up indoors over meetings and work all day (even if they were very productive).

But one thing I did not expect and found utterly charming--a huge painted egg ! It was in a stand that had a small placard announcing it as the Egg of Happiness. And it did indeed look happy, plus had the ability to cheer a person up instantly. Tell me you would not find this egg a cheerful thing to see, there in the middle of a city, as you walk by along the sidewalk. The placard on the egg's stand said to touch the egg and make a wish to come true. (so I did, as one should take all good karma and luck opportunities one can find in this journey of life). The egg is painted by an artist named Pavel Mitkov, and it stands in front of his Sofia city gallery. Apparently this is the egg of St Paul. The gallery wasn't open when I was by, or I surely would have gone in. His website is found at and you can see his vibrant and colorful paintings there. I liked his work I saw online though (and check out the link on this website to web pages for his Berlin gallery to see more of it, including some nice abstract pieces). I loved the Egg. What a surprise and delightful find amidst so-many-meetings all week.

With that I moved on and traveled to the UK, where I am now. More next post !

Last Sunday: Asturias Spain

Hi There ! I have a few more photos to share from last weekend in Asturias, Spain. Last Sunday I was going out for lunch and as I walked out of the hotel in the centre of the town of Aviles, I entered the really big town square, which is like an open plaza area. Not many cars allowed and around, mostly it is filled with people. And Sunday it was filled with people socializing with their gorgeous dogs ! The people were socializing with each other and their dogs socialized with the other dogs. I have never seen so many beautifully groomed and presented dogs in one place, outside a dog show that is ! They were all clean, brushed, politely managed and friendly, on leads with pretty collars. I thought it was a really nice picture of the dogs behaving so well and out with their owners, dogs as well presented as people were that lovely Sunday midday.

Another thing I saw in the town of Aviles was this huge statue that was engraved with the name 'La Monstrua.' I did not write down the rest of the inscription, but perhaps I should have. What I understood is this is a statue in tribute to a lady who may have cut a fearsome figure ! I have posted the profile pic, which shows the scale of this statue. She is a bit scary !

Aviles also has an awesome rainbow bridge, very pretty to see as you drive by.

Speaking of statues, shown below is my favorite seen in Asturias. I was told that years ago these were advertising mascots...but that over time they became popular and there are several in various areas of Spain. This one is overlooking the hill near Aviles. Check out the near by power towers to get a good idea of this guy's scale and size ! I really liked this, it has a certain presence that is very agreeable. As well as amusing too.

Loved the visit in Asturias, what a great place. There is lots more I could say, but for now, hope you enjoy the pics :) See you next post...

Monday, July 6, 2009

This Weekend: Asturias, Spain

Hello All. Before I hit the road and move on again tomorrow, I had better do this post and officially "catch up" to where I am, while I can. The next week will have me on the move quite a bit and I have a fair bit of work to catch up on too. This weekend was simply a washout, due to extreme jetlag. No good brainpower left for work !

So I looked around this town of Aviles in Asturias region of Spain instead. It is a quaint town in the old parts and it is quite pretty. Featuring old terrace buildings and iron balconies, railings, doors, window grates. And old churches and stone buildings. This building to the right was not ancient, but it was very attractive, built in early 20th century as a modern style (for the time ?) palace of a wealthy resident here, it is now the Municipal Conservatory of Music 'Julian Orbon.' It looked quite well looked after too, and perhaps freshly painted. The decorations on the building were very ornate, in subtle muted tonal colors that were very attractive. Building trims in a warm grey midtone, with some mauvey grey colors too. I rather liked this lady with her eau de nil color face, grape leaves and grapes that featured over one of the upper door arches. Many of the windows were covered in interesting (timber ?) rolldown shades as you see underneath the lady's face.
Saturday morning shops were open. As I had left my usual bag of sketch pencils back at home, I found a place here that sold art supplies. I got an assortment of charcoal and graphite pencils, charcoals and related items.

Locals eat lunch around 1 - 230PM here. I have struggled a bit to get adjusted to the timetable that food is served here, and being from another timezone probably did not help. I skipped lunch and took a walk. I had the sketch stuff and also my paint box along. At 230P I found a place to sit and paint. Did that for awhile, nothing too flashy...just some quiet practice painting a few scenes I could see. Watercolors are not my medium of choice, but they are convenient for travel. My skill with them is not strong, I am still learning how to get them to do what I want ! The curiosity of my painting captured a few locals' interest...and they came to see what I had painted (and comment on it too !)

Other than my friendly local critics, the town was empty from 230 - 530P. Then things started to liven up. People out to walk, walking their dogs, walking their babies or older ladies minding children at play, going to see and talk with friends, getting a beer in the cervezarias (beer pub/cafe). Good Saturday things to do.

I sat and did my painting under some pretty trees with a dense canopy, like a tall grape arbor (and they may have been grapes if grated on tall growing trees I suppose ?), near a church. The church is called Iglesia de San Nicolas de Bari and was originally a Franciscan convent in the 13th century, and apparently the only building outside the city walls in the Middle Ages. The church has an old bell tower I could see also from my hotel room window, shown at right. And the bell is very loud when it rings, which it did today in the morning, when I was sitting in a sidewalk cafe too near at the time, having some coffee and reading the paper.
More tomorrow or Tuesday. I have a few more photos to download of my looks around Aviles and Asturias to add one more post. Tomorrow I have meetings, then off to airport for afternoon flights to get me to London for an overnight en route to Bulgaria on Tuesday. See you next post :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Last Weekend: Vilnius

Hello Blog Readers. Today I hope to finally "catch up" on posts, as compared to my whereabouts that is. I got hit with a really bad case of jetlag Thurs, Friday and yesterday and hopefully today will have recovered a bit. A good sign: no headache on waking (which is a telltale sign of jetlag and travel weariness).

Last weekend I was in Lithuania and got to get out and see a bit of the city and surrounds of Vilnius. Here is one of the fabulous old churches in the old part of Vilnius. We were there on a Sunday and did not want to interrupt services in progress, so did not see the inside of this one, but we looked inside one nearby and it was old and had to have been a truly grand sight to see in its former day. The friezes on its ceiling were very faded (and they did not photograph overly well, as no flash was allowed inside).

Below right are a couple more pics of the old part of Vilnius city, on a brilliant sunny day with good warmth too. The city is very pretty and some of the buildings have been re-done like the peach and white panted one here. I am told that now, buildings that are renovated and redone are keeping a small patch of their original exterior somewhere, which is a charming way to be sure that some small piece of the original character is preserved !

I find myself drawn time and again to photograph doorways, gates and also windows on building facades. The gate at left was of an old timber, arranged in nice mitred corners for some good diagonal movement. I really liked this small gate of wrought iron set into it, allowing a view of a patio and garden beyond. The stones on the patio beyond were set in a pattern that carries the eye around too.

We went to a national musueum and saw an exhibition of a Lithuanian painter Mikalajus Konstanias Ciurlionis. Most of his paintings were from early 1900s. He was prolific, even in the course of a short life (died in his mid 30s). The exhibition showed an impressive number of his works (paintings), also sketches and his drawings inspired by and of his musical composing (he did that too, a busy guy !) Photography was not permitted and I don't have anything to show of them from my photos. But I can recommend looking up his work if you are curious, there are some really top notch abstract aspects. I quite liked a series of 8 paintings called Winter, from 1907.

And to end off with a charming scene I really like, some window boxes with pretty red geraniums in bloom in front of a country cottage outside the city in a village town called Trakai. That green is so bright and on its own is almost in-your-face with its brashness...but out in the country with white window frames and the flowers in the window boxes, it just looks right !

A great visit in Vilnius, work was really productive too. I was surprised to note a reversal of typical gender balance in our Vilnius office, with more female IT operations staff than I have seen in any of our offices around the world--Go Girls ! More posts soon, do stop by again :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

China Trip

Hello on this Wednesday First July, writing this post from the Finnair lounge in Helsinki airport, where I am in transit. Have done one meeting, have another to do soon, both on the telephone. A modern road warrior I am ! I will do one more post now about my visit to China...and then on the weekend I move to new destinations. I haven't uploaded the latest pics from my camera to the laptop yet and can't do it now, as the camera battery wants charging first ! So a few more photos from China.

First, to add to the previous post about my visit to the Forbidden City, on the right is a photo of characteristic and very cute glazed yellow miniature guardian statues of sorts. These guys are found on roof tops, at the corners. Important people apparently had a long line of them guarding the corners of the roof. On each corner too. Their glaze seems to match the bright yellow glazed tiles of the roof tops and the round shapes you see below them are front facing edges of some roof tiles. also glazed yellow, which is quite pretty. These animals' backdrop is a red building. I zoomed the camera lens to get a closer up shot and more detail. I like them, so cute and great detail in them.

And check out the gorgeous detail of the painted eaves of roof tops, left. I thought these were really very beautiful. Bright green and blue against reds. This one looks like on that is older, so colors are a bit faded, some others are freshly revived and renovated with bright and fresh paint. I actually like these faded ones just as well, they have a genuine character I appreciate. The detailed of the door ways and shapes of the painted timber panels is lovely and these are featured on all the Forbidden City temple and pagoda or palace buildings, there are also simpler versions on the garden buildings.

And the following image is a charming one, taken at a lovely little restaurant with a garden patio near a popular park. I liked this for the red bird cage under the tree by the table. It was empty, and I think I prefer it that way, over the alternative ! (though I do find bird cages very pretty things, I like that birds can fly free !). But still, it is very pretty hanging under this lush tree showing good summer foliage.

Despite my choices of charming imagery shown here, I found Beijing to be a very modern looking and behaving city. An amazingly large place too, with a big population, I am told it may be 15 million or more. That is truly astounding to consider and think about. Modern progress has definitely arrived and the service and business is pretty efficient. With much to be proud of for making such a modern city, I also find the old images to be very quaint and charming. While I appreciate the modernity, I really found the rich and traditional colors and designs most inspirational. I hope those remain and thrive.

More soon, next post will be Eastern Europe, a few photos from my visit to Vilnius in Lithuania. Meanwhile my business travel continues, and I am soon to board a flight to Spain, where I will visit an office in the northern part of the country. Hope you will check back and look at my posts about the travel. Bye now :)