Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another hike, and...Dublin

Ellen, with her usual expression:

(much more interesting graffiti in European cities it seems.. at least, I like this kind more):

(this one below is an art gallery that we went to as part of the faculty-led tour, but it was in the process of being put up; but we still got to see it, which was pretty neato. There were a few pieces by a faculty who sometimes taught at the Burren College of Art, and whom I had met briefly the other day):

**See ALL photos on my flickr, at this link:

I don't think I like taking a ton of time to reflect, at least not so soon, on the events and things I'm seeing and experiencing. Or maybe it's just writing about them...sometimes when I write about stuff, I end up going on and on and I analyze things and add little comments that I just thought of at the moment, and somehow the quality or just memory of the original event gets forgotten.

But, I'll try to remember stuff here.

A few days ago, I went on a hike/climb with my friend Cameron. It was originally going to be a hike by myself, but I decided to bring along someone, just to be more social (I try, maybe not quite enough, to make this a consistent goal, especially here, to reach out of my introverted-shell tendencies). It was a very good climb up the nearby hill (a giant hill, with many points of climbing), and we talked about a lot of interesting and meaningful things. We saw a parent-goat and its baby, and also a jack-rabbit or hare running very fast. Also a few cows and a bull. Here is a video of the parent-goat and its baby:

On Thursday, our entire undergraduate class, plus a few graduates and Post-Bac's, went to Dublin. We left at about 7:10 am, and arrived around 10:30 am. We went on tours until about 5:30, and then we had the night to ourselves. The hostel was very nice, and the school paid for all of it (except for things like towel rental or storage rental); it was 30 euro per person, they said, which sounds pretty expensive. And it was very nice; there wasn't a ton of space (expected), but I had good roommates (classmates), and there was a common room where anyone could go to sit on couches and watch TV. Some of our group talked to people we did not know, some of whom were from Brazil. There was also a nice kitchen, which people gathered in and had breakfast and talked in on Friday morning. Oh, and one time, my roommates and I all were out eating, and returned to our locked hostel room to find the shower on. We're thinking it was a ghost. One of my roommates thought it was cool, and so we exchanged high-fives.

Anyway, back to the topic of Dublin... I think I felt more connected to the rest of the world, or at least the rest of Europe, just being in Dublin. We got to tour some art museums, which were alright, but I really enjoyed the Natural History museum. I mean, I'm not a huge history buff (and actually I'm not a huge fan of art museums either...the re-created Francis Bacon studio was cool though, and the facts about him, and the studio when it was originally found, were cool)...but, anyway, the natural history museum had bodies that were found in bogs, which were fairly unsettling, but very interesting to be so close to. In other wings of the museum, there were tons and tons of Egyptian artifacts, and Viking artifacts (swords, skulls); I didn't have enough time to stop and enjoy all of it, but I tried to soak in as much as I could. Oh, and in one of the first museums we went to, there were some neato watercolor paintings by someone with the last name of Turner; very very very tiny lockets with portraits in them, and then some amazing (but still fairly small) watercolor paintings of landscapes (apparently they only show these particular pieces one month of the year?).

The other major thing I went and saw in Dublin was the Book of Kells, at Trinity College. I almost didn't go in, because I wasn't sure how interested I was in something having to do with religion. Anyway, it was definitely a very well put together exhibit, with lots of interesting facts in big text on the walls, and zoomed in and highlighted parts of it, before you actually get to the room with the book itself. It was pretty amazing to just stare at the page spread they had open (actually there are a few books; they turn one page a day). So much detail, very hard to believe how they made it.

The first night, Thursday, I hung out with some friends/classmates and went to a vegan restaurant (even thought none of us in the group were vegan, we had planned to meet friends there, but we were late, but still decided to try it out). Had a couple pita wraps and a treat (some kind of thing like banana bread but with hazelnuts in it). Very enjoyable time.

Some of our group then chose to walk around the city until we found a good pub (one of the group used his inner compass to find the way). After about 1.5 hours of of walking, we somehow made it back to the Temple Bar district (where our hostel was), and settled into a very nice pub, with candle lighting on most of the tables. It was very satisfying to finally sit down, after walking around so much; felt like we accomplished something I guess. I had a bottle of original Bulmer's apple cider, which I think is my drink of choice for now (don't really like the Whiskey and Coca-cola, or Guinness, that I've tried so far at other places). It was real nice and felt great just sitting and listening to the music (there was actually a DJ, playing mostly older tunes, mostly 60s, some Elvis, some Simon & Garfunkel). Good conversation and smiles and laughs and stuff.

On Friday, we again did a few tours led by faculty who had come with, and then after 1:45 pm, had the afternoon free. I hung out with a few classmates & my brother for an hour or so, and we found a surprisingly cheap but fancy restaurant to get some food at. It was literally fine dining-style, and everyone eating there seemed to be all dressed up. But I managed to get a very, very good panini with chicken and pesto for 7.50 euros. Really good and funny people as my company.

After that, some people split up, and Dylan and I went off in search of an antique store we had noticed while wondering around the previous night (but it had been closed). We eventually found it, after much walking, and it was alright, though everything was too expensive for us to buy. Had a nice conversation with the owner, then left and headed back to the hostel. Not much else happened, except that they played Happy Gilmore on the bus, on this tv screen in the front, and speakers throughout the bus (the coach/bus we usually ride to places is really fancy). I watched some of it, and it was alright. I think I fell asleep eventually.

Tonight, I hung out with some peeps at a house in town, watched a little Harry Potter, and had a home-made meal with pasta and veggies, which was very good (and healthy!). Then I went to a party out in the countryside a little ways, which was small but seemed nice enough; people sitting around a campfire, people doing a little dancing inside, some spinny colored lights, and some karaoke. There was this really cool thing that I have never seen before that they did, which was: they had this thing that looked like a small hot-air balloon, and lit a little fire on this thing on the bottom of it, and it slowly rose up from the ground and lifted off into the sky, far and away, until we could no longer see it. Pretty neat!

And now I'm at home and typing this blog post. Will go to sleep very soon. Some more video, and some pictures are included in this post, either at the top or bottom (still not sure how to arrange the images). Have a good night everyone.

Just walking around (definitely not lost):

A homeless man writing poetry on the sidewalk:

A guy doing some small sand sculptures, and a guy playing violin:

The river that runs through Dublin (a good landmark when you are lost):

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fairy Fort

(A selection of photos, more of which can be found here: )

On Sunday, I walked out to a nearby ancient 'fairy fort', all of which is left is basically a large ring made of earth, with trees and grass growing on it, and a moat surrounding the outer edge. The day was perfect weather for a walk, and it was a nice, relaxing spot to meander around and look at all the lush grass and other vegetation. There was also a bit of water in the middle, near some fallen trees and tree stumps. It was great just standing or sitting around and breathing in the air.

I also did some sketching today (I did do some doodles other days, but it felt more like sketching today). Some drawing of cows, and a tiny bit of the landscape from a little ways up the big hill behind our school. I might post some more of that later. For now I'll post photos of the fairy fort visit.

I also have gotten a small start on developing my independent project. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head, but for some reason I am being drawn to one that involves building a little mini paper-city; like...maybe flat buildings, but kind of like a diorama.. maybe.. or I may place some building-like things in a set comprised of natural objects I find in the burren. There may be some commentary on building new things in the burren. Not quite sure yet.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Yesterday we had a very, very long bus trip, going through Galway and all around the Cannemara area, which is distinguished especially by its "mountains" (very large hills at least), and its beautiful coastline. It was my second time at the ocean (first time being a few days ago on the first bus tour to closer coastline), and my first time actually close to the water, and first time feeling ocean water with my hands. Needless to say, the ocean is great. I wanted to drink it and go swim in it (of which only swimming would be safe, although obviously very cold at this time of year). The color was a fresh, visual treat for my eyes. Seeing that color in person is entirely different than seeing it in any photograph or video.

Among the new photos in my Flickr set are some of my first climb up a burren hill a couple days ago, with a few friends. Some of my fellowship thought it would be fun to climb the hill-mountains in the Cannemara area, but I think I will stick to the shorter burren-hills for the time being. Maybe when I develop larger lung capacity and endurance...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Climbed a big burren hill today

Today, myself and four others climbed the nearest big hill to our school. It was a fairly treacherous journey at times... had to watch our footing, at least, almost constantly. Really breath-taking views, of the bay nearby, and of the entire valley and hills around us. Very fresh air. We found quite a bit of bones nestled in a particularly deep crack, and pulled them out and left them on the rocks to dry, and to maybe come back later to take. There were many cows pretty far up on the hill, too; they must know how to navigate very well, as even we had trouble finding the least steep and most climbable path up, and then down, the hill. I don't think we even reached the very top; it went for quite a ways up.

Just heard some cows mooing very loud, and I'm sitting in my studio. I don't know how close they are..

I hope to get some sketching going very soon.

My internet connection is slow and finicky, so I will update this blog post with photos soon (or just make a new post, linking to the photos on my Flickr)... actually, just click this link to check and see if they have been uploaded by the time you read this:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Ok, I have been in Ireland for five days now. I don't really know where to start...

First, right off the bat, I'll post a link to all the photos I have taken so far, on this Flickr... well, it's not every photo I took, but the ones I picked out:

It's all pretty overwhelming. It is the first time I have been outside the midwest United States, the first time I have been on a plane, and the first time I have seen the ocean. The plane ride was OK, but not really particularly enjoyable, in terms of me being nervous, just because it was my first time flying. I sat next to my brother (our travel agent got us very good seats), on both the flight from Minneapolis to JFK, and the flight from JFK to Shannon, Ireland. There was a nice woman and her family on my left, on the international flight, who had been living in Ireland for two years. The woman was from Chicago originally, and she had met her husband in Ireland, but then lived in America for 8 years before going back to Ireland to raise her kids. So, that was good to have someone like her to talk to. There was some pretty creepy guy who for some reason had to be standing for the last 1.5 hours of the flight, literally leaning and peering over the shoulder of everyone in my row, including the woman and her sleeping kids. He was watching the stuff on their TV screens, but it still seemed awkward..I guess he maybe had some kind of anxiety or extreme discomfort with sitting down..

It's hard not to want to rush through this typing; it's probably time for me to go to sleep.. well, I'll churn out some details. Lots of nice people here, it seems like so far. Instructors and students included. There are some cats and dogs that hang out around the housing, and at least one cat on campus that obviously enjoys the attention. The land is extremely beautiful. At first, on the first bus ride from the airport, it wasn't totally clear how varied the landscape actually can be. But, after a couple bus rides (one was an official tour, the other was just to go to the Guardia, or police, to process some immigration stuff), I have seen so many amazing landscapes... you can check out the photos to just see for yourself. The first time seeing the ocean was so freaking amazing, I had never known what the sounds and smells were like, just what I had seen in pictures and video.

Orientation is longer than I expected it would be, but there are some interesting instructors and things we are learning. It's still really tough getting up so early in the morning; probably still some jet lag going on for me. I get tired in the early to mid afternoon, which is unfortunate, as that's when we have a lot of lecture-type thingies. I think I will get used to it; hopefully soon.

Going out to the pubs or just hanging out with roommates has been enjoyable so far as well. I think I prefer places other than pubs, if I'm feeling like being a contributor to the conversations going on, because I can't seem to project my voice or enunciate well enough when things are super loud and I'm surrounded by people. Just being in the company of anyone is nice, though.

I feel like I rushed this blog post.. maybe I'll type more soon, when I get more photos or do something neat or interesting. Time for bed.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Almost ready to go

I leave on a plane this coming Thursday, to Ireland. After studying at the Burren College of Art for a semester, I will travel for two weeks in Europe (Italy, possibly Czech Republic, Germany, France, England). I will write some journal entries and post pictures on this blog.

Some more Fall 2010 semester work

(I sat for a couple minutes trying to think of a good title, but could not come up with a good one. Oh well).

Here is some more work from my Tools of the Trade class I took this Fall, 2010, including a couple process-related items, too. This first piece was made after we were assigned to look at the website, which collects information from blog posts across the internet, many having to do with feelings or emotions. The blog I chose had to do with a woman who wanted to conquer a 101-item to-do list in 1001 days. All of the objects in the piece are related to items on her to-do list. Here is a link to the original blog and post:

(Above) is the full-size version...

...and just a quick crop, to see how that may improve the composition. During critique, this was something that was suggested. I would move the health bars and some of the background elements in along with the crop, if I were to do a final version.

The following (below) are scans of an assignment involving "fashion", and with the requirement to use watercolor. I chose to depict some twigs "wearing" leaves and bark, and I tried to make use of the medium as best I could, working much more slowly and carefully than I usually do. Reference photos follow the illustrations.

The next two pieces are a diptych, created from the prompt, "human/animal", which could be anything involving humans and animals, with some kind of thing connecting the two. I just drew a human pooping, and a human using a scratching post, with an animal in the background as the master; so, reversal of roles.

Oh, and it was required to use acrylic... I chose to do a less-careful method I guess, working without really layering or cleaning my brush a ton, and mixing it often when the paint was still wet on the paper.