A Period of Quiet Reflection

October’s calendar page is a little startling at first glance: a young woman, seemingly with prickly cactus growing out of her. If I had written this story on the first of the month, I might have said it is an apt depiction of what some people go through with the onset of spring: hay fever.

Then yesterday, I might have said it was an accurate expression of many people’s feelings on hearing of yet another horrifying and heartbreaking shooting in America.

Today I have looked up the artist, Choi Mi-Kyung, who paints under the pseudonym Ensee, and I can find out little about this Korean graphic designer and illustrator who hides her face on her own website. She works digitally, and all her images display a similar, delicate aesthetic and subdued subject matter: ethereal girls (and occasionally boys) partially hidden behind foliage, birds, domestic scenes.

The pictures, especially viewed en masse, make one pause, and open a window into quiet reflection and tranquillity – a welcoming sense of stillness in today’s chaotic and sometimes disturbing world. It may even soothe the soul.


Rebels of Colour

Study for the Portrait of Madame Heim, 1926I was going to write a story on the inspirational Sonia Delaunay, one of my favourite artists and textile designers, but instead I discovered the work of her husband Robert, with which I had been hitherto shockingly unfamiliar. I don’t even recall studying him when I was at art school!

Robert Delaunay (1885–1941) was born in Paris, and after his parents divorced, was brought up by his aunt and uncle, who sent him to study Decorative Arts at Ronsin’s atelier in 1902. At age 19, he left the atelier to focus entirely on painting, and in subsequent years was contributing paintings to the Salon des Indépendents.

Portrait of Henri Carlier, 1906His Neo-Impressionist style employed the use of mosaic-like cubes to form his small but intricate paintings, and he was linked with the Cubists, but in 1911 (by this time married to Sonia) his work became nonfigurative as he explored the ‘optical characteristics of brilliant colour that was so dynamic they functioned as form’. [Wikipedia] He and Sonia, along with others, founded Orphism, an offshoot of Cubism, which focused on pure abstraction and bright colours.

The First Disk, 1913Circular Forms: Sun No 1, 1912–13In 1912, Delaunay said, ‘I made paintings that seemed like prisms compared to the Cubism my fellow artists were producing. I was the heretic of Cubism. I had great arguments with my comrades who banned color from their palette, depriving it of all elemental mobility. I was accused of returning to Impressionism, of making decorative paintings, etc … I felt I had almost reached my goal.’ [Wikipedia]

‘I made paintings that seemed like prisms compared to the Cubism my fellow artists were producing.’

Delaunay went on to be invited by Wassily Kandinsky to join Die Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a Munich-based group of abstract artists, and to enjoy success in Switzerland and Russia as well. Orphism as a movement however was short-lived, losing its novelty as a new artistic style, coming to an end before the onset of the First World War. Despite this, both the Delaunays essentially adhered to its theories in their subsequent work.

Astra (also known as Study for 'The Football Players of Cardiff'), 1912–13 While living in Madrid during WWI, Delaunay was stage designer for Sergei Diaghilev on the ballet Cleopatra; Sonia did costume design. While he continued to paint after the war, he also was involved in the design of railway and air travel pavilions for the 1937 World Fair in Paris. He died at age 56 in 1941 from cancer.

I love the idea that the Delaunays, and others of their group, were boldly running complete counter to their contemporaries, such as Picasso and Braque, and pursuing their own vision in celebration of colour for its own sake. And why not? The world would be a dreary place indeed if it was seen only in black and white.

Portrait of Madame Heim, 1926–27


Spring Spring But Different

Pantone's Top 12 Colours for Spring 2018

So, Pantone has assessed the fashion runways at New York Fashion Week and has produced this selection of twelve colours (plus four more basic neutrals of navy, grey, beige and white) that will influence the fashion industry over Spring/Summer 2018.

Apparently consumers are still embracing colour: ‘The desire for colorful self-expression is a key take away for Spring 2018. The color story is wildly divergent and we see a kaleidoscopic bounty of uplifting shades and feel-good tones. There is a feeling of optimism and confidence driving a new vitality into fashion trends.’ [Pantone]

This is a collection of more unusual tones – more muted or slightly ‘off-key’ – than we usually see in spring hues. I grew up in the Eighties, and they seem very reminiscent to me of that era.

It’s a little confusing to me in Melbourne though, as we have just entered spring. What were Pantone’s spring colours for this year? They turn out to be pretty much the same, but slightly different: a little fresher and clearer. I suspect no one but the most stern fashionista will notice the difference if one were to mix them!

PS. Note how very similar the colour palette in the September calendar illustration below!

Pantone's top 10 colours for Spring 2017


Spring is Here (Sort of)!

We Melburnians been kept on our toes by spring’s wayward weather almost for a couple of weeks now, but what a great feeling it was on the first day of the month to know winter was over, and to turn over the page of my Frankie calendar to see this image from German illustrator Anke Weckmann.

Weckmann’s whimsical style and light touch is a perfect choice for September. The subject and colours are fresh and certainly springlike, and there is that lovely liberating feeling evoked by the new season.

One does indeed wish to lounge under leafy trees when the sun shines – fitfully enough in Melbourne at this time of year. It can literally switch from glorious sunshine and blue skies to wind-whipped clouds and lashing rain in minutes! We might all grumble and complain, but secretly we love our temperamental climate and boast of its capriciousness to visitors.

Hope you are enjoying a happy September.


The Lost Book

A little while ago I briefly glimpsed this picture somewhere on my computer; it took a moment for the image to sink into my consciousness, and by the time I thought to pause and take it in, I had already clicked on. I searched high and low in all my folders (or so I thought) and couldn’t find it until now, when I found it by chance. So I thought I’d better share it immediately!

I have not read this book myself in fact – I just really liked this illustration. There is a lovely light touch to the pencil and ink line drawing, in nice contrast to the serious literature, and the minimal colour palette is appealing. I have a strong suspicion that the colour has been applied in Photoshop, as the watercolour brush looks a little too mechanical, and there are too many sharply defined corners, but that does not detract from its delicacy.

This book has been lurking on my computer for so long (since June 2012) and the url I saved –, a pretty name for a blog – has unfortunately expired.