Welcome To ‘Toyland Austria’.

Austria.. A truly breathtaking country that is just perfect in every way. A country that leads your imagination towards dream land, ignites your creative fire and lifts your soul with its beautiful rolling hills.. a time to rest from the ordinary and fill your heart with warmth of nature and see that  ‘The Hills Are Alive’

Austria’s style is radically different to many European countries, keeping its own simplified uniqueness, mostly incorporating the beautifuly natural formations, from mountains, rivers, streams, to its pretty floral tyrolean villages. I was completely surprised how Austria’s culture manages to encorporate such simplicity in every way, and to find myself dreaming of a fairyland and adventure into toyland.

Green Meadows Of Tyrol.

I began my travels in a small village outside ‘Zell Am See’ known as Kaprun. Each of these are well known ski destinations but hidden gems in the summer.

I wanted to explore this region, merely for its toy land villages and see for myself how the region could influence my art development.

Nature lifting the soul
A dose of the ‘Hills are alive’ came to mind..

Travelling  towards Kitzbuhel, from Kaprun, is absolutely such a gorgeous drive, where during the drive of about 1 hour, I was literally blown away by such incredible natural beauty.. again not believing it was real, so beautiful that it really is mind blowing. Along the trail, high up in the mountains you are greeted by toy like trains, colourful villages and dream like rolling farmlands.. so cute it definitely got me thinking of little boys and adorable toys.

 

A field so rich in colour.
Toy land village of Kitzbuhel, in Tyrol.
The Toy train with 2 carriages that ran through the mountains known as the ‘ PINZGAU’ line - running for over 115 years. It definitely looks like it was plucked from a fairy book.

I also took a trip to the German border of lake Koenigsee, a natural lake with its most beautiful church of ‘St Bartholomew’ literally again taken from a toy village, and a lake so clear, your reflection smiles back at you.

Lake Konigsee. Magical world.

A trip to Austria is never complete without a visit to ‘Salzburg’ once again driving through the most incredible lush mountain our scenery to reach a complete fairytale untouched town, one that literally personifies a ‘Disney Set’.

Salzburg is a must for all music buffs, heaped with stories from the infamous ‘The Sound of Music’ and Mozarts birthplace. It is a city that I found to be the master of baroque architecture with some beautiful playful additions of obscure stunning street signs, to magical fairy gardens of ‘Mirabell gardens’ where the magic of the ‘Sound of Music was created’ and remains untouched to date.

 

Street Charm!
Stunning Austrian Squares.
Brogue perfection.
The Icing on the cake, Buildings that look so good they could be eaten. Sugar coated Rooftops.

From Yodelling, to dancing, to dreaming Austria is a true dreamy destination, and a destination worth seeing for anyone loving nature, music or simply just living in Fairyland!.  XX SR

 


Belle Provence.

Its always joyful to stumble across something different. And so,  I began my scenic breakaway basing myself in the heart of Aix En Provence, a town full of vintage shops, hip trendy buzzing atmosphere.

Take a trip to the beautiful Aix En Provence..

Oh its worth it!. The approach to the town never fails to surprise, you sense that something special awaits, it is a truly magical town. There is something so completely wonderful and warm about Aix, I constantly am drawn to return year after year. It has such atmosphere with its narrow winding streets, boutiques and café's occupying the ground floor to some of the most stunning architectural buildings, there is a rich avangarde aristocratic feel to the region. Fountains tinkle in little squares and tourists stroll gracefully down traffic free streets such as cours Maribueau, the elegant main street in Aix. Every Friday hosts the most wonderfully colourful market and a visit to Place Rochelle food market is a must.

 

Les Deux Garçons, Aix
Buzzing student life quartier
Aristocratic buildings - steeped in such history and beauty.

 

Dreamy fountains and courtyards on a padestrianised street.

 

Aix en Provence is a place that works, whether for artists, gourmet lovers, or even visiting for a pampering cultural short trip, it never fails to fill your heart with such warmth!

Along the fabulous roads took me deep into the Cote Provencal region - Le Jardin De Provence, where, my world became a ball of colour, ever peaceful, ever present and ever grateful to see such beauty.

Market Day Aix !

Route  - The ultimate Luberon Valley guide - the heart of Provence. 

From Aix en Provence travel north towards Pertuis, stopping along the main view points of Villelaure, Cadanet, Lourmarin, Ménerbes,  Bonnieux and Roussillon. These  beautiful small hill top villages certainly won't disappoint and will guide you deep into provence , its lavender fields & farming scene, Bursting Poppy fields, and rows of rapeseed fields.

Rolling poppy fields - a pure delight

 

It is a place where time has seemingly stood still and you can capture this magnificent charm throughout these unspoilt historical villages. The rows of colour is a sight only to be dreamt of, and holds a deep profound calmness and warmth in my heart.

 

Beautiful farmyards

A trip like this, from Aix en provence will take you 1 day. Directions are well signposted. I suggest a good road map along with sat navigation, as you can find some exclusive tiny village spots hidden and worth exploring.

 

Views from bonnieux
Colours and tranquility

I based myself in a beautiful farmstead  - with easy access to Pertuis to begin my journey into the hills. (also within 15 minute walk into the heart of Aix en Provence. (www.lemoulindespinchinats.com)

The Luberon valley really is one of the most beautiful places you'll visit, it excites the scenes with its gorgeous sights, smells and tastes. It completely invigorates the soul - that is unquestionably for sure, and you will leave with memories from your time in the region the will last deeply!  Bonne Vacance  :) XX SR

 

 


All the colours of 'Nicolas De Staél'

A short trip from the Cote D'azur took me to the heart of Provence and the beautiful lively market town of Aix En provence to delve further into history and heart of art in southern France, exploring some galleries and artists influenced by the region.

The former capital of Provence, Aix en Provence is a stunning graceful lively city, known for its connections with art and the home of Cézanne, with its many fountains, the beautiful main street of Cours Mirabeau and its many universities and art schools. For gallery lovers I would recommend a stop at 'Hotel de Caumont, Centre D'art', located just a few steps from Cours Mirabeau, one of the most beautiful private mansions in Aix en Provence. Currently showing the work of Nicolas De Staél & Mark Chagall, both hugely influential painters and illustrators in France.

I was privileged to see the work of Nicolas De Staél, a painter known for his use of thick impasto and highly abstract landscape paintings (sketches featuring illustrations).  Between the year of 1953 and 1954, De Staél's painting period was a turning point in his career by drawing new inspiration from Provence. As I said, mostly abstract in style, there is a beautiful representation of his illustrations in his sketch books and work throughout the gallery.

  

His discovery of the midday sun, the exceptional beauty of the landscape, it was the intence experience with solitude that enabled him to produce such fantastic striking works - all experiences that nourished his imagination and so his fame grew in heart in provence.

  

De Stael began his art career in Brussels, travelling to Paris to study at the 'Academie Des Beaux Arts, where he became very close to the artist George Braque.

With the use of strong bold blocks of colour , De Staél depicts the sunspaces, seascapes and observation of light that changed during the day.  He was compared to the works of Rothko, where both painters works can be described as 'Blocks V's Blocks', also his work so strongly abstract that it was mentioned he veered towards contemporary art and including him in 'Pop Art' of the 1960's. His work is strongly influenced by local artists alike, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Vermeer.

Nicolas De Stael's work can be seen in 'Hotel De Cumont' Centre D'art (Aix en Provence) until 23rd September 2018, and also some work can be found in 'The Tate London, and George Pompidou Centre, Paris.

www.caumont-centredart.com


The Cotswolds; Chocolate Box Perfection!

Stepping into this artistic location delights the senses, with its beautiful fresh rolling hills, picturesque villages and country charm, there is so much to see that it can be hard know where to start in the Cotswolds.

Here are a few inspiring ideas I managed to come across while touring this absolutely beautiful part of the world - one area that is picturesque no matter what the season, one of my most inspiring art trips I have been lucky to visit...

the Church where many Downton Abbey scenes were created.
Home Sweet homes.

Share The View - 

Beginning with a stay in the most picture perfect village of 'Bampton', around 1 1/2 hour from Bristol Airport, you are immersed in English Chocolate box perfection. The village, where many Downton Abbey scenes were filmed, is a perfect way to settle into the gorgeous tranquil way of life, picture postcard perfection in the fantastic heart of the cotswolds.

Down the Valleys - 

A short drive away & into a medieval hill town of 'Burford', set along the river Windrush, a place to take stunning walks into the plentiful forests. It is often referred to as the 'Gateway' to the cotswolds. Heaved with country bars, art galleries and quaint little shops, its beauty marvelled by its historical atmosphere.

Down the Misty glen - Steep hilly town of Burford

Live the Fairytale - 

Arlington Row, Bibury

A visit to the cotswolds wouldn't be complete without living  the fairytale and taking a trip to 'Bibury' where 'William Morris' called Bibury the most beautiful village in England. wonderful tiny cottages are strung together along the banks of the river Coln. Arlington Row, owned by the national trust, old weavers cottages, is one of England's most iconic 'picture perfect' sites, and it truly is, breathtakingly pretty. It even appears on the cover of UK passports, personally my favorite delight to be found!.

Tea For Two - 

Explore the magical sweet shop charming village of 'Stow on the Wold' - the highest town in the cotswolds, full of history, charm and delicious coffee and tea houses. Personally my little dream art village, where magical art vibes are alive.

treat yourself to delicious home made toffees and fudge. The aromas will guide you there.

Fields Of Green - 

Dotted along the roads, some of the prettiest views and drives can be found in the tiny villages of 'Swinbrook' and 'Minster Lovell' - where you will find magical views of rolling hills and stumble across houses that are so pretty, no doubt of total chocolate box perfection.

Rolling Rapeseed Hills - Views from Swinbrook.
'Minster Lovell village, chocolate box perfection

A little Boat Spotting -

Known for being named as ' The Venice of the cotswolds'; the village of  ‘Bourton on the water’, featuring a replica minature toy village in the village itself. Bourton on the water is known for its low bridges which run through its centre, with narrow pathways and stone houses, holding a beautiful charm of its own.

'The Venice of the Cotswolds'

So no matter where you go into the heart of the Cotswolds, you will be emersed and wrapped in its elegance and total perfection, ambiance and love.

Happy touring and dreaming! XX SR


'Rainbow Real estate’ ! ‘The Brownstone’ - Recognizable Style & Elegence, NYC '

As one of the most desirable form of dwellings in New York City today, the brownstone remains the most recognisable style found throughout the City, creating the most luxurious rows of elegance dotted around the boroughs.

Gentle arches frame the beautiful brownstone streets

There are quite a few distinctive styles of brownstones around the city, mostly 3 stories, with a basement and with notably tall windows. A stroll around neighbourhoods of Carroll gardens, Park slope and prospect heights in Brooklyn you will be awed by their grandeur and beauty, the beautiful Swedish brown sandstone framing these elegant streets.

Many of the stone cuttings and carvings for brownstones memorialized their owners, once in fashion to have a celebrity depicted on a residence, but most of the details found were mythical characters or even building owners.

Historical Building. Fine ink pen sketch.

Probably the best of the brownstone in Manhattans’ boroughs can be found on the Upper West side where the oldest building can date back to 1880.

A dreamy facade I came across whilst strolling the areas.

Brownstone, a building where NYC pride and elegence are grandurely connected by artistic beauty. - A dream place to call home.

All artwork available to purchase by clicking into ‘Colour In The City’ Collection above. A beautiful way to show off the artistic elegence in the home. XX SR

 

 


NYC - Packing Art into the Meatpacking!!

Chelsea's row of galleries along west 21st street between 10th & 11th Ave includes some of the finest galleries in the NYC gallery world, offering the latest contemporary art for both the casual gallery-goer and dedicated connoisseur.

I was lucky enough back in November 2017 to experience such a thrill, with each gallery providing free entry and an opportunity to witness some finest worldwide artists, one in particular, was the inspiring, (known and found for the 'mile long' queues (Not joking)) was the fabulous Yoyoi Kusama, the Japanese contemporary artist, active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry. She is best known for her conceptual art, minimalism, surrealism and pop art styles. She has been acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan.

IN 2011, Kusama created artwork for six limited edition lip glosses for the brand lancome, as well as working with the designer Marc Jacobs, who was inspired by her line of Louis Vuitton products, and so, created for Marc a line of accessories, shoes, watches and jewellary. These products were available at a soho pop up shop, which was decorated with Kusama's trademark images of her polkadots.

'Ready to wait in Line?? worth it!

Her work, Displayed in the 'David Zwirner' gallery, showed off her selfmade journey to greatness and quite possibly showing that she maybe the greatest artist to come out of the 1960's. The 'Infinity' rooms on view in chelsea, give her paintings a forcefulness, with their imaginative images and sculptures, rooms that could win over any new fan. One room is a hexagonal box with mirrored interior, shows a changing light show, a sensation of flying above a cityscape.

My favourite room at the gallery, was a room (Photo above) titled 'With all my love for the Tulips, I pray forever' - a simple white room containing three large sculptures of tulips in which everything is covered with red dots, a room where you can experience, through her eyes, her innocent fun of art.

Kusuma in her life, experienced psychological imbalances that led to periods of hospitalisation (in childhood she began to experience visual and auditory hallucinations and continued) thus leading her to the paintings of red dots.

It is the vitality of the artist, that is infectious, the art that keeps her now alive.

(David Zwirner gallery is located on 525 W 19th Street, NYC.)

 

Exhibition was on display November 15th 2017.

Shop 'Colour In the City' Collection for more NYC enjoyment.

_________________________________________ XX SR

 


'Enchanting Village Life - 'Cote D'azur Secrets ' - a reconnection with art.

 

Ah the beautiful French Riviera, a glamorous coastline with glistening seas and elegance, from its aristocracy, to its divine, picture perfect villages, many of which hold artistic specialities. A holiday destination, where, any artist is sure to reconnect with themselves.

Driving along the winding roaming hills, you can be sure to come across villages like the pretty colourful  'Ez', the medieval village of 'St Paul de Vence', an historical typical old traditional untouched French cultural village of 'Villeneuve Loubet', rich and exclusively famous 'Yacht life' coastal town of 'Antibes', the bustling market life of 'Valbonne', all the way to the beautiful art gallery haven of Mougins,... the south of France is a sure true treat, catering for all loves of life.

Villeneuve Loubet :) X

'ÉZE'  - a magical hilltop village located above coastline of Nice, is a famous tourist site, renowned for its panoramic views of the sea from its peak, above the Church, 'Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, dating back to 1306. It is where Walt Disney spent a significant amount of time, enjoying its beauty and charm. Éze is one of the sixteen villages grouped together to be known as the 'Route of Perched villages'.

'ST PAUL DE VENCE' - famous for its modern and contemporary art galleries, it is sure to tantalise an artists pallet. It has been a haven for artists such as Pablo Picasso,  Jacques Revert, and Marc Chagall, all who lived here. A must visit for artists and cultural lovers alike.

St Paul De Vence

'VILLENEUVE LOUBET' - Crowned by its medieval keep, stairways are omnipresent and with steeply sloping streets, boarded by beautiful colourful facades of French charm and balconies decorated with flowers. At the top, a large church with its belltower deserves a visit, with the chateau hiding behind the high walls, is bound to intrigue you.

Medieval Streets 'Traditional French Facades' - Villeneuve Loubet

'ANTIBES' - Known for its famous port and supreme exclusivity. This port (village/town) is a beautiful stop to absorb the french holiday vibe of the Cote D'azur. From its fine class restaurants to its clientele, it is a sure to spot the 'stars'. Take a walk along the port to see some 'out of this world' yachts and walk the narrow route to a magical view point of the cote D'azur, also the pathway to the Picasso Museum and gallery.

'Antibes'

VALBONNE - a true cultural experience is this beautiful market village. You can capture local life from fresh fruit, vegetable, fish, flowers and meat stands around the narrow beautiful streets.

MOUGINS - A village filled with top class restaurants and an explosion of over 40 art galleries, it has attracted many creative types from Fernand Léger, to Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor to Pablo Picasso (Who spent the last 12 years of his life here, where he died in 1973). A few miles inland from Cannes, Mougins offers  extremely cultured presence with the finest of dining to coincide with the most luxurious galleries 'Museum of Classical Art' , founded by Christian Levett, including collections from artists such as Rubens, Picasso, Braque, Dali and Marc Chagall.

. Gallery Highlights of the Cote D'azur

Musée Renoir, (Cagnes Sur Mer) - The Renoir Museum stands in the heart of the magnificent estate with old olive trees and a superb panorama of the Cap d'antibes. Renoir spent the last 12 years of his life at this house in Cagnes Sur Mere.

Musée Picasso - (Antibes)  - formerly the chateau grimaldi at Antibes, is built at the peak of the village. In 1946 it was the home of Pablo Picasso, today it is known as the Pablo Picasso Museum, the first museum in the world dedicated to the artist. Notable paintings are 'The Goat' and 'La Joie de Vivre'

Musee Marc Chagall (36 Avenue DR Ménard, Nice)  - a national museum dedicated to the work of Marc Chagall,who resided in 'St Paul De Vence;, this gallery holds 40 of his work here. Marc Chagall, a Russian/French artist, an early modernist who was associated with several artistic styles including illustrations, tapestry, ceramic, and fine art prints.

Musée Matisse (164 Avenue des Arénes de Cimiez, Nice)  - The Villa was built in the 17th century and was his home from 1917 until he died in 1954. It has many of his paintings as well as his sketches and personal objects.

Musée des Beaux Arts. (Avenue Des Baumettes, Nice) with a wide selection spanning from 15th Century to 20th Centuries. Built in 1878 it is well worth the hike up the steep hill, it hosts everything from French masters to post impressionist paintings.

XX SR.                                    ______________________


'An Illustrators Dream' - A trip to 'Atelier de Paul Cézanne'

 Atelier De Paul Cézanne - Trip

  ''Just a short drive along the beautiful golden Route of the 'Cote D'azur', a 2 1/2 hour drive from nice airport,  brings you the beautiful arty french university City of 'Aix en Provence', the heart of a creative culture, the threshold of abstraction, renowned for its famous aristocratic inhabitants .

Today, in Aix en Provence, you can share in Cézanne's wonderful art journey and experience by visiting his studio 'Atelier', and see, through your eyes, his unique outlook, landscape and natural surroundings , where he always felt was his great guide and influence, and what truly made him 'The Father of Modern Painting'.

Set up on the 'Lauvres hills' in Aix en Provence, amidst lush french scenery, we see the house once the main art gallery of Cezanne, with his furniture, work and equipment laid as it were for the artist. You can feel the presence of the painter.

Paul Cezanne, born in the City in 1839, father of a successful banker, who wished him to pursue a 'respectable' career attended law school, to soon drop out and pursue his life's passion, art. The artist left for Paris to further his artistic career. His father disapproved but he later reconciled to his choice and on his death, Paul inherited a substantial sum and he continued to pursue art without any financial worries.

In Paris, Pisarro, acted as his master, and formed to be an inspiration to Cézanne. Cézanne was rejected by the Paris Salon, taking a while for his art work to be recognised it wasn't until 1895 that he received his first solo exhibition.

In 1870 he fled to the south of France, where, here in Aix en Provence,he drew an increasing number of landscapes and abandoned his dark colours which he developed in his early years in Paris. This period was to be his turning point in his life, (quoting that his time in paris was wasted) becoming one of the leading impressionists. He spent much of his later life in his 'Atelier' in seclusion. He used planes and blocks of colour to give an abstracted observation to his work. it was this abstract innovation the was said to be the link with 19th century impressionist art and the modern art of Matisse and Picasso, in the 20th Century.

Paul Cézanne's atelier can be found on, 9 Avenue Paul Cézanne, 13100, Aix en Provence, France.

Website : www.cezanne-en-provence.com

'Gardanne'.

'Gardanne' on display @ The Met gallery NYC,  - (the steeple of the local church crowns the cluster of red-roofed buildings which animate the sloping terrain of Aix. Faceted and geometric, the structures show off his early 20th Century impressionistic Cubism)

______________________________________________


Bella Roma

Rome -' A Ruin'  -  'the beginning of transformation'

"We all want things to stay the same, settle for living in misery, because we're afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins.. maybe Life isn't so chaotic, maybe its just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it.. "  - (Liz Gilbert 'Eat Pray Love')

Rome.. is the  perfect example of  Ruin as a GIFT.. a ruin showing the road to transformation.. A ruin where the shells of architecture show the beginning of how when we use and transform our wild Imaginations.. something new.. something magical, something extraordinary can happen. Rome, somewhere that is worth a few steps backwards as we begin to leap forwards... into the new !

Rome, A city where you're never falling apart, you're just falling into something different & unique, with the capacity to create the beautiful. It is a city where you find yourself, picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, starting all over again.. followed by a dusty repeat, and it can get very dusty !!!! : - ) X A Marvel.

When In Rome XXX

 

 

 


Magical 'Cinque Terre'

 

A trip to the colourful 'CINQUE TERRE'

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

 

This photo, taken from one of the gorgeous villages I came across on a week's village trecking/hiking around the incredible unesco site of Cinque Terre.

Based in the Liguria region of Italy, just a short train ride from Pisa (Changing trains @La Spezia) The area, linked by train, brings you to these most colourful villages, that are packed with their own uniqueness and splendour.

Beginning with a trip to the more coastal village 'Monterosso Al Mar', this is probably the largest and most touristic of the 5 villages, with a large stretch of beach,  a 2.5 hour cliff hike to 'Manarola' the first of the very colourful and for me the most beautiful of all. A further short walk along the cliff edges leads you to 'Vernazza', where the 'wild at heart' dive and jump off cliff rocks a fun experience to watch. 'Corniglia' is the only village that doesn't lie on the coast, with a short train ride from Vernazza to a 382 step climb, worth the views to die for. Lastly to Riomaggiore.. now secretly tipped as one of the most unspoilt surprise destinations to visit and... I have to agree, it is heaped with buckets of charm and colour.. almost like a life painting ..that could crumble into the sea at any moment!....some people call them imperfections but no, that's where the good stuff lies!.

'Mandorla' , Cinque Terre.

The coastline and villages are surrounded by hillsides, olive groves, lemon and fruit farms and part of the UNESCO world heritage site. A must for all adventurers and arty lovers! X 'fino all prosoma Volta'

Restaurant choices - there are multitudes of restaurants at each village. but 3 top choices would be:

Da Eraldo (Piazza Matteotti, Monterroso Al Mar) - watch out here.. Carbs overload, Pasta is so fresh and a true Italian experience.

Belforte, (Vernazza) - with breathtaking views, make sure to book in advance. Restaurant in a climb into a medieval stone tower.. Seafood is a treat.

Fuori Rotti - for views, large wine menu & aperitifs.

Stay - I would recommend staying outside the 5 villages.. as each place is accessible by train. Both Levanto area and Dieva Marina area  are lovely (Hotel Clelia www.hotelclelia.com) which feature a pool, a luxury for Cinque Terre region!. Enjoy XX

Italia, it never ceases to be so beautiful and inspiring. X