Monday, June 29, 2009

El Olivo

Olive trees are one of our favorite arboreal treasures, so Sean couldn't resist a plein-air moment capturing one of these 400 year-old beauties in Arcos.

In fact, if he had to live his life on Earth as a tree, he would be an Olive Tree. They thrive in warm, dry Mediterranean climates, and this makes Sean a very happy man!

What type of tree would you be?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flamenco Beauty

This week, we are in Arcos de la Frontera while Sean attends an artist's workshop at the Bravura Academy. We are all having such a wonderful time, and the workshop has exceeded all of Sean's expectations. Micaiah Hardison has orchestrated an exceptional week of portrait and figure plein air painting of Spanish themed models and breathtaking landscapes.

The above painting (right) is by Jeff Watts, the guest instructor, and was completed in less than two hours as a demonstration. He is a very gifted artist and gracious teacher. It has been such a treat to watch each artist individually capture the soul of this magnificent region.

[photos by Sean Patrick McArdle]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vista Vision

This is the vista vision that greets us from the courtyard of our Arcos Hotel - inspirational indeed.

What landscapes inspire you?

[photograph by Sean Patrick McArdle]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Papa's Day

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.”

My beloved Sean,

Thank you for being the most incredible Papa to our Gaia Miette.

We both believe you hung the moon.

Happy Papa's Day!

[photo taken by Simply Mel of her dreams come true]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Epicurean Masterpiece

[Photographs by Sean Patrick McArdle]

Imagine my excitement when we discovered this jewel of a market in historical old Madrid. San Miguel is one of the most emblematic traditional markets in Madrid with commerical activity as an open-air market dating back to the 19th century.

A few years ago, a group of professionals, who appreciated the architectural importance of this iron-built market, decided to refurbish this gorgeous piece of history. The idea was to maintain the range and character of the traditional market beginning with quality requisites based on fine hand-made produce and seasonal fare.

In February 2009, the doors of Mercado de San Miguel reopened, and there is no doubt everyone who walks through this epicurean masterpiece will indulge in a pleasurable sensory experience (or at least a series of drool wiping moments!).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Spanish Garden

This beautiful garden is located in the Museo Sorolla (the former home and atelier of Joaquín Sorolla). Designed by the artist himself and inspired by Andalusia, it was planted between 1915 and 1916. While sitting in this gorgeous spot located in the heart of Madrid, we reveled in a very peaceful reprieve and captured a memorable moment to cherish for a very long time.

[Sorolla's Garden - Museo Sorolla]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sorolla: Visions of Spain

Today, we attended the Sorolla Exhibition at the Museo Nacional del Prado. Joaquín Sorolla, an early 20th Century Master painter of portraits and landscapes, is receiving well-deserved attention in one of the most important ever organized exhibitions, in Spain and abroad, with regard to the number of works and their quality. The exhibition includes around one hundred paintings by Sorolla, the most internationally known Spanish artist of his day, and provides a comprehensive collection of paintings based on examples of his finest works and the fourteen panels (murals) known as the Vision of Spain painted for The Hispanic Society of America. Being able to behold so many of Sorolla's masterpieces, in the Prado, has been the perfect prelude to our week in Madrid.

[El Baile - one of the fourteen Vision of Spain panels]

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Travail of The Dreamer

The true artist works rather in great gusts of effort, and in smaller gusts
of apparent lassitude. He is not laying about "waiting for some inspiration."
He is in the travail of the dreamer entering into expression.
Now when you see the artist sitting thoughtfully before his blank canvas,
don't call him lazy. Realize what huge gulfs exist between a thing of
dreams and the exact science of mathematics.
Know that the dream is as necessary to the birth of any idea
as mathematics is to the exactness of its consummation.
An artist must neither be too dreamy, nor too mathematical.
He must dream and he must paint.
~John F. Carlson

[We depart for Spain tomorrow morning. Sean is attending an artist workshop, and I'm going to perfect my peripatetic skills with my little crumb in tow! Once we settle into Madrid,
we promise to share our Spanish tales with you. Hasta pronto!]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stone Fruit Pleasures

When I arrived at the Farmer's Market this weekend, I was in total heaven with all the stone fruit choices that were beautifully displayed before me. I couldn't stop tasting all the varietals of nectarines, cherries, peaches, and apricots. With my basket overflowing, I knew there was a fruit crumble in our future! This is a very simple dessert I make throughout the year with any seasonal fruit of choice. When I prepared it this afternoon, I tried to pay attention to the measurements because I usually just mix everything together and hope for the best. Trust me, it is extremely easy and incredibly delicious!
Cherry-Peach Crumble
serves 4
1/2 pound organic cherries
2-3 organic peaches
1 cup organic Muesli
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted organic butter [softened]
Cut fruit into small pieces and place into a baking dish [9x9 or something similar].
In a bowl, mix muesli, brown sugar and butter together forming a 'chunky' mixture.
Sprinkle the topping over the fruits.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and topping is golden.
Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Guard of the Harem

[Painting Study by Sean Patrick McArdle]

This weekend, my husband finished (well, artist's really never do consider their pieces finished, do they?) this magnificent painting of Frank Duveneck's The Guard of the Harem. Being someone who is lucky enough to possess a very well-trained eye for a beautifully rendered piece of art, yet having no artistic talents of my own, I am forever in awe of those who can turn a blank canvas into a brush stroked masterpiece.

Duveneck painted the original in 1879, and it is now part of San Francisco's DeYoung Museum's permanent collection. From the moment we saw this painting, both of our hearts were captured, (Yes, we have a tendency to love the same pieces of art!) for the eyes of this Guard just seem to draw you into his world of power, intrigue, betrayal, and longing.

In Sean's ongoing quest for learning, we sought permission from the DeYoung Museum for an on-site study of this particular Duveneck piece. After finally working our way through the proper chains of command, we were given a disheartening answer of NO. The reason being is because oil paint mediums have drying agents in them and these fall into a "hazardous solvent" category, a rule that has been established by San Francisco's new Health and Safety Commission. However, he was more than welcome to use other drawing/painting materials such as pencils, color pencils, oil crayons or water colors. Absurd! How can one possibly do a knowledgeable study by using other mediums than the chosen medium (oil) of the masters?
The Louvre (as well as most European museums) has promoted this form of study for centuries and it has proven invaluable to artists (which gives us another great reason to relocate soon!).

Obviously, this obstacle didn't stop Sean from continuing his desire to learn, so he took numerous high resolution digital photos as well as slides, and we made many trips to the DeYoung in order for him to capture the secrets (for example, only 5 colors were used in this entire painting) of this Guard's magnificence. Despite not being able to set his easel and canvas up inside the museums walls, I believe his painting is an incredible piece of work by a talented artist who never lets the word no stand in his way.

Monday, June 1, 2009


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