I found a spectacular portrait of two decorators in a fantasy home in one of the European shelter mags (will credit post search, which could take years). I painted half of it...and instead of striving for realism, I thought a nice experimentation with Modigliani distortion might be more fun. The hands look like they belong on a toddler, but it's one of my new favorites because it's so damned strange. It now hangs in the hallway of one of our recent staging projects. I cannot wait to have her home!
When Porter was in Paris over Christmas, she fell in love with a portrait of an officer from the Esterhazy Hussars regiment at the army museum at Les Invalides by an unknown artist. I loved him too and decided it would be much simpler for me to attempt to copy it than to send Port on a Thomas Crown caper.
...For painting number two, I wanted something where I could really work with contrasts, so I searched out an image of a Victorian fencer and found this gem by Tancrede Bastet below. I've done quite a few paintings of mustachioed gents and decided it was time for a shave. Given that, my version looks much younger - almost like an extra from Tintin - but I love the shadows and am quite proud of the hands.
There he sits next to the snake charmer on my dresser in my new nearly-black bedroom...(more shots of that to come!)
Porter took off for France this Christmas, so I took time off work and poured myself into painting...portraits AND (incredibly high, perilous) walls and got a new bedroom and a little art collection to go inside it.
In my years since college, I've fallen in love with watercolor, mainly because it somewhat frees you from the pre-mixing constraints of oils. By working with water, layer after translucent layer are applied and eventually reveal the image. And oh, the thrill of adding in the dark shadows! All the fun lies there.
I thought it would be fun to reach into Albert Kahn's wonderful archive of early 20th century photos and found this of two boys in the Fusilier Marins who were charged with protecting the French Naval base at Dunkirk. I focused on the boy to the right and attempted to loosen up and paint fast (two things with which I totally struggle). I love those red pom poms and his pipe.
Like it was for hundreds of other families, the Nutcracker was always a holiday fixture for us Hoveys. We went to see it every year when the Kansas City Ballet put on their production. When I hit six, mom had me training there (it had become the State Ballet of Missouri, an odd unnecessary name change I never understood) and my best friends and I got to dance in that beloved Christmas ballet as soldiers, angels and members of the party scene. (I fittingly, was a soldier two years in a row).
Of all the fun scenes, nothing gave me chills of excitement like the when the men came out in their flowing Cossack pants and danced the ballet version of the classic Hopak in the candy scene. Even as a kid, I couldn't imagine human thigh muscles performing in that manner.
But what I saw then was nothing next to this. Ignore the politics of Reds and Russia today and just try to stop smiling at the Red Army Dance Ensemble's unimaginable moves. And just wait for the accordion...
Helsinki is only a 45 minute flight - or eight hour booze cruise - away from Stockholm. The city offers such great design options and Scandinavian touches - with a heavy dose of Soviet influence (Saint Petersburg is also only about an hour away).
You could spend hours in C. Hagelstam, a wonderful antiquarian book shop that also sells old maps and charts.
Agricola Church in Punavuori
Designers Nora Hellberg and Elsa Vilén opened the charming and beautiful shop - Proloque - in the Helsinki Design District earlier this year and they have it DECKED out spectacularly for Christmas, as you can see here. Their instagram feed is so lovely and they gave us great suggestions for shops around town.
Things to do in Helsinki. In the city centre there are some interesting shops you might want to see like Samuji. The founder Mr. Samu-Jussi Koski is one of the most interesting finnish (fashion) designer at the moment. They also launched a new home line as well. Minna Parikka is Finnish shoe designer, and then there is Marimekko and Artek. And if you are interested of Jugend architecture, Katajanokka is place for a walk. And the Alvar Aalto Museum and Hvitträsk might be places to go to.
About restaurants; Tomi Björck is probably the number one chef here at the moment. He has several restaurants in Helsinki; Bronda, Boulevard Social, Farang, Gaijing. Bronda has also a nice bar if you want to get drinks only. Then there are some legendary, classic "artist" restaurants like Savoy Elite, Kosmos, Strindberg etc
. The old Market Hall is also open again after many years of renovation.
Here's Porter attempting a jump in front of Helsinki Cathedral and achieving what looks like Marcel Marceau attempting a wild, uninhibited Charleston.
The view from our wondrous apartment via Air BNB.
Me, in my new Costo x Johanna Gullichsen hat. We also picked up a pillow case from Johanna Gullichsen's adorable shop in Punavuori.
More scenes from C. Hagelstam here...
Finlandia Caviar has a small, adorable cafe designed by the stellar Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio that serves up champers and...caviar. You can go with Finnish or Russian tasting menus. We went local and it was delish.
The Maiden of Finland in her Rudolph costume, looking very upset.
Sardines pickling at the Old Market Hall.
Our apartment stairwell.
It's been seven long years since Porter and I first visited Stockholm (she was appropriately blonde back then). We're heading back next week with a short sojourn to Helsinki in the middle. Now, after many years of travel, I've learned that a little general aesthetic guidance to direct us towards key clusters is the best way for us to explore and actually relax once we land. This usually manifests into a Google map, but the Type A nature on display in the following pre-planning (and with Vienna) even terrifies me. But as soon as I started gathering the photos, the chills of excitement hit...and then I had to do full layouts. It's a little heavy (pun) on the restaurants, but maybe we'll do a polite wine crawl. All that TBD...
So, all that said, here's Stockholm. Helsinki to come!
Here's a map with all the website links and a PDF you can download and view perfectly, mind you, on an iPhone.