Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Artist Profile: Dennis Herschbach





Dennis Herschbach is a retired education professor from University of Maryland.  As he approached retirement he wanted to explore an activity that could help his transition into retirement. Dennis always loved art and even got a minor in sculpture when he went to college. Both his father and father in law were artists.  So it was natural for him to investigate the art studios at the University of Maryland across the plaza from his office. It was there that he began to do independent study in painting with oils.  
Dennis believes art can transcend boundaries of belief and ideologies and he finds most of his inspiration from his garden and his travels. Of his work, Dennis says, 'I work a lot from nature, but I don't try to duplicate it; the camera can do a better job at this. Rather, I let nature guide me in the use of color, shape, line and space to create images that evoke a pleasant emotional response. Above all, I feel that a painting should be beautiful and speak to the inner self. I  strongly believe that it is through art that we can find the finest expression of what it is to be human.'

Some of my personal favorites are from his travels.  This yellow landscape is of farmer's fields in Kosovo.

"Caressed by The Summer Sun, Kosavo"  oil on canvas, 28.5" x 34" in

"The Green Tree", oil on canvas, 36" x 30" in
 This painting is the moonrise in Greece.  In life, this work almost glows from the layers of glazing applied to the canvas.
"Summer Moonscape, Alexandros, Greece" oil on canvas 36" x 30" in
Much of Dennis's work is also inspired by his garden.

"Spring Gold", oil on canvas, 36" x 29.5" in
Dennis's work is hanging at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church at Powder Mill Road in Adephi, Maryland.  His opening reception is January 7th immediately following the church service, around 11:30. If you are interested in purchasing artwork, please contact Dennis Herschbach at drhersch@umd.edu. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Our Kitty is Inspiring

Axol is wondering why his fur is on my daughter.

OK, our kitty can be a little aggressive.  He comes from a long line of feral street kitties from Senegal.  Who knows, maybe he has a little African wildcat running through his blood.  We all live peacefully these days but I still keep my eye on him when company comes.  No one can pet him but our family.  Those souls who are sympathetic to animals and usually can overcome the hardest animal heart are saddened by the hostility our kitty shows.  He is a tough little nut.  We affectionately call him our demon kitty.  He is almost as good as an attack dog.  Woe to any trespassers here.

See the demon horns?
My daughter is especially enamored with him.  I think she admires his fierce nature since she is a more gentle spirit.  So, for Halloween this year, she requested to go as Demon Kitty.  That is, our cat Axol.  With horns.  So you can see the evilness.

Her request inspired me to create a repeating design fabric based on photographs I took of his fur.  I then printed the design onto Spoonflower's minky fabric so that it would have a bit of a furry feeling to it and be a bit warm for a chilly trick or treat night.  Another bonus, the fabric has a bit of sheen as well.  I only ordered one yard to make her outfit but I wish I had ordered 2 because I had to make her shirt from the left over material and would have preferred a different design with longer sleeves.  But, I made do with what I had.
If you are inspired by our kitty too, the fabric is available on Spoonflower in a natural, ginger fur color and a magenta, Cheshire Cat color.
He doesn't look so tough.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Volta Region Vacation

The beautiful, lush tropical forest on the way to the falls, look up high--very dry
We took a trip the Ghana countryside during the New Years holiday.  The trip up to the Volta region is a bit of a slog.  For many miles the road is being rebuilt so future trips should be more comfortable, but we did not get much benefit since the new roads are blocked from use.  For a long stretch the road was incredibly dusty and deeply potholed.  We got stuck behind a truck which kicked up so much dust the visibility was like driving through a blizzard.
We stayed at lodge in a small village outside of Wli Falls next to the Togo border.  The lodge had a terrific garden.  To add to the relaxing environment there was no wifi and, because a large pole fell down in a couple towns nearby, there was also no electricity for most of our stay.  The hotel had a generator but since this was a holiday weekend and there are few cars around, it took many hours to get to the nearest gas station and back. To take a way from the relaxing environment, the lodge is next to a very loud church, which amplifies it's nightly services.  On our first night there was a particularly aggressive preacher loudly exhorted his crowd until 11 or so. 
The falls and the walk leading up to them are stunning. The people were very friendly.  As villagers walked past us they often said, 'you are welcome.'  The guide for our walk to the falls, added some ground cola nut to a bottle of water and it turned bright orange over a period of a half hour or so. 
On our way home we stopped by Tafi Atome Monkey preserve.  The Mona monkeys will jump right on you for a bit of banana.  The whole family enjoyed being so close to them.
In the photo essay below, I took care to not take clear photographs of people--the villages were not actually empty.
 
Wli Falls, the highest falls in Ghana

rocks to the side of Wli falls

Ficus tree from outside of our lodge

House in the village of Wli-Afegame

The children were interested in the goats, but the goats were nervous

Village houses being built.  Also a gutter for the rain--don't fall in.

Cocoa Bean

Mona Monkey mama

These monkeys are not shy about the bananas



Monday, December 12, 2016

Amethyst River Flow




















Not too long ago, I took a trip with my camera to Aburi Botanical Gardens, a somewhat neglected, but still beautiful botanical garden outside of Accra. The gardens were full of great texture, especially the mosses and rocks.  I used these photographs as a jumping point to make a series of fabric designs. Amethyst River Flow was the version of the design I chose to make into a wrap dress from poly crepe de chine.  The fabric is pretty light weight and has good drape. 
Oh, and FREE SHIPPING world wide until 12:00 EST 12/13.


 
See this fabric in my shop here

See this fabric in my shop here

See this fabric in my shop here


 
 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Art Deco PJs

My youngest boy loves lounge wear. Playing on his computer or with his video games are his favorite things to do after jumping on the trampoline.  When he gets home from school, he just wants to put on something soft and comfy.  So, as soon as he saw a sample of Spoonflower's fleece he wanted something made in it.  It is very soft and not too heavy to wear.  I let him select any of my designs and he picked the turquoise and green shades of Modern Style Art Deco Greens and Japanese Fan Scale Dots Green and Turquoise because the geometric patterns appealed to him and the colors made him happy. 
You can purchase almost the same thing in a pre-printed pattern from Sprout Patterns--the Jasper Pajamas and the Kids Recess Raglan or for a bigger sized top I would suggest the Lane Raglan
While you are at Sprout Patterns get in on the 50% off Sale of the Holiday Stockings and Lined Zipper Pouches 'til 11/9.  Use code BOGOFQ.  You still have enough time to make them for gifts and they are super easy.  (I shared making some of these pouches in an earlier post.)
https://sproutpatterns.com/projects/bloomingwyldeiris-holiday-stocking-sage-tennis-love-stocking-218990

https://sproutpatterns.com/projects/bloomingwyldeiris-lined-zipper-pouch-sage-orange-pomander-and-holly-bag-220510


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Textiles in Tema and other reasons to go there


Kente cloth: Hand woven in strips and stitched together
Recently I went to Tema, a large, industrial port town near Accra.  One of the guidebooks suggests that there is no reason to visit Tema.  Maybe that is true for the casual tourist.  Tema has a lot to offer to a person who lives here.  You will need to bring a cooler. 

If you can get up early, the International fish market or the local makes a great stop.  The fish, shellfish and other offerings are fresh and you can get your items deboned for a small fee.  Other must see markets are a couple of Korean grocery stores and Malicat (also known as Calumet), the German butcher shop. The German butcher absolutely has the best sausages and frankfurters I have had in Ghana. 
Lawrence and his assistant in their shop
My friends and I focused on textiles during this trip to Tema.  Our first fabric stop was to Lawrence and his kente shop.  Sometimes members of his workshop come to Accra to craft markets but only at the studio can you see the full range of products and the kente weavers.  In the large chests are bedspread sized kente that chief wear during special occasions.
discussing the embroidered elements in this teal kente
Our next stop was an open air batik studio.  One of our group ordered a personalized batik print from Eveline's batik studio.  Personalized batiks are a great way to get an affordable fabric for a small group.

The batik workshop



At the end of a busy morning, the place I like to go to relax is the garden-like atmosphere of Arirang, a Korean Restaurant.

Last Post update: Congratulations to KG who won the 500th design give away!
Ironing the batik with an old fashioned metal iron

Eveline owns the shop, she is holding up some batik

dye buckets and boiling kettles

Rooster resting on an upside-down grocery cart


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Line of Ghana Fantastic Floral Series and Giveaway

This past week, I released my 500th design for sale at my Spoonflower shop.  I am giving away 2 yards of my fabric--any fabric, any of my designs.  To enter the drawing, comment on your favorite fabric either in my shop or on this post.  For a second entry, give it a heart on Spoonflower.  Contest ends Friday, October 14. Featured in the photo, one of my new designs, Ghana Fantastic Floral on Black Petite.
Ghana Fantastic Floral Black Petite