Saturday, February 25, 2017

From Shorts to Snow

Ah, Wisconsin! As I zipped up my jacket a little bit higher to shield myself from the arctic air, I surveyed the scene around me. 

Powdery snow blew freely, forming ripples reminiscent of those formed in the Sahara Desert. Ducks huddled near the shore, under fallen branches and leaning grasses. My fingers felt awkward as I clumsily tried to manipulate the dials on my camera. How could it be that just a couple of days earlier, Madison residents were strolling about in shorts - and some even complaining about the heat!

Of course, it wouldn't last. Perhaps in a couple of months, spring will try again. For now I'll have to be content with the pillowy rocks and icy ripples.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bharatanatyam Meets Madison

When I read an announcement that Bharatanatyam Dancers were going to be performing at Olbrich Gardens in Madison, I jumped at the opportunity to see this oldest of classical Indian dances, right in my neighborhood. Although it was not hot and sticky like it often was when I attended the performances in Chennai, the unusual spring-like February temperatures were just fine for me.

I arrived around the same time as some of the younger dancers. Unzipped winter jackets revealed the colorful costumes. A mother quickly "painted on" the finger designs with a colored Sharpie in place of customary henna. Artificial jasmine had to suffice instead of the customary fragrant floral strands adorning the plaited hair.

An instructor of the local Bharatanatyam Dance school introduced the girls (ages 5-16) and gave the audience a brief intro to what they were about to see. She explained how the eyes and hands were a highly integral part of conveying emotions in the expressive dances. Some of the younger students
The sophistication of footwork, hand gestures, and eye/neck movements increased with the age levels. Poses hearkened to the gods celebrated at Hindu temples, such as Krishna and Shiva. An enjoyable Saturday morning in Madison!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A February Winter Sunset

These last few days, we have been blessed by sunshine (sometimes a rarity in winter). This evening, the clouds were present just enough to create some beautiful sunset effects. This view is from my balcony in Madison.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Doors of Tunisia

Old Door, Mahdia - Watercolor by Melissa Enderle
One of the most enduring symbols of Tunisia is the door. Whether meandering through the old souks or in modern homes, from palaces to rather humble homes, elegant doors can often be found gracing their entrances. The doors of Tunisia serve as a gateway between the private domain and public space. Many are of a horseshoe shape, framed with local marble or stone. Some are rectangular. 

Sidi Bou Saïd Door with Bougainvillea - Oil Pastel by Melissa Enderle 
Quite often a smaller door is contained within the larger one, enabling further preservation of privacy.  Visitors riding on horseback could use the top left door knocker and enter while still mounted. The lower right handle was for the women and children, and the upper right was for the master of the house. Tunisian doors are often studded with decorative nail heads in a symmetrical arrangement, disguising the construction methods and enhancing the appearance. Symbols such as the star, fir tree, and eye are prevalent. Blue is the most popular color (especially in the town of Sidi Bou Saïd), but doors can also be found in yellow, green, or natural wood colors. 

See some of my photos of the doors of Sidi Bou Saïd in my Flickr album
More of my artwork of Tunisia

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Shadows in the Snow

Having finally spotted the sun, I happily bundled up and went for a photowalk. With the addition of a strong light source, the snow glittered and objects became more dimensional. It also created some wonderful shadows.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Teton Ken and Daisy: Color Pencil Artwork

Below is the latest artwork I have completed, a color pencil drawing of Teton Ken (formal name of Ken Eddy). I met Ken and his burro Daisy at the Superstition Museum, where he was very willing to pose for me and chat. Gleaning information about Ken was far easier than most of my subjects in foreign countries, where language and/or time was a challenge. 
With my grizzly beard, worn leather hat, gun, and mining gear saddled on ‘ol Daisy, I certainly look the part of a gold prospector. Yessiree, I can truthfully say that I have found a nugget or two, but nothing that would make me rich. I admit that I have been amongst the many who have gone up in these here Superstition Mountains searching for the fabled Lost Dutchman mine, but the greatest wealth I gained there revolved around enjoying the spectacular scenery. Leading some adult treasure-hunters and movie crews up the mountain also helped pay some bills and enabled me to purchase several burros including this here Daisy. I even acted as the ghost of the Lost Dutchman in a movie! On weekends, Daisy and I hang out here at the Superstition Museum, giving kids rides on my burros. I’m not sure who has more fun - me or the kiddos!

See more of my artwork on my website

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Crooked Branches and Leaning Trees

Despite the overcast skies, I was determined to get out and take some photos featuring the overnight snowfall. With the flat lighting, I would have to focus on other elements. These branches evoked a stark, but beautiful quality with their dynamic, wiggling lines.

These trees provided some nice diagonals, echoed with the opposing diagonal of the open waters at the shoreline.

See more Winter in Wisconsin photos on my Flickr album