Drawing Class at CERA

Drawing Class at CERA

This past week, a poster caught my eye as I left my advisor's office. It advertised a free drawing class this weekend on the prairie with artist Tara Shulka, whose artwork is currently on display in the Smith Gallery at Grinnell. Not one to miss a chance for free art lessons, I signed up!

This morning, about twelve of us hopped onto the shuttle to CERA (the Conard Environmental Research Area), a huge plot of natural prairie the college owns and uses as an outdoor classroom/research area. We spent the morning learning some drawing practices, doing a few blind contour drawings, walking among the prairie plants, and working on a detailed drawing. It was a really enjoyable experience; Tara was an excellent and patient instructor, and my “classmates” and I shared some great conversation as we worked. It was also perfect weather, which made the prairie even more breathtakingly beautiful.

We finished the morning with a delicious box lunch, and then rode the shuttle back to campus. It was a great experience, and certainly a good use of a Saturday morning! Enjoy some pictures below!

Getting Set to Sketch

The Educational Facility & Windmill

Beautiful Stone Sculpture on the Prairie

 

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Prairie Pictures on the Farm

Prairie Pictures on the Farm

This past week, I went out to my grandparents plot of land outside of Grinnell to take some pictures of the prairie. The farm has always been a wonderfully peaceful place for me to go, and is one of my favorite things about being in Grinnell. It's such an amazing opportunity to get to immerse myself in the pure, unspoiled Iowa prairie. Enjoy the pictures below, and many thanks to my grandparents for making it all possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wonderful grandparents.

The photographer, out-standing in his field.

 

A Fun Day at the V&A (…And Natural History Museum)

A Fun Day at the V&A (…And Natural History Museum)

Today was a massive museum day!

 

I started with the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is such a vast, amazing space filled with countless treasures. I explored various rooms for a few hours, marveling at all of the incredible handiwork. It always astounds me to realize how much incredible stuff was made before the advent of modern technologies like computers or even electricity. I just see so much potential in the human race by looking at our past and seeing the marvels we could make in the old past, and dreaming of the incredible, unimaginably awesome things the future will hold.

 

After the V&A, I traveled to the nearby Natural History Museum. Its imposing exterior is matched by the majestic interior, filled to the brim with scientific treasures. I went through a special exhibit on the museum's most valuable acquisitions (including a Neanderthal skull and a first edition of On The Origin of the Species), an exhibit on evolution, and the museum's giant collection of minerals. The collection was housed in a massive hall lined with rows on rows of display cases. It was a geology enthusiast's dream, and totally ROCKED! (Okay… awful pun, I apologize.)

 

After all of the museum walking, I was hungry, so I swung into Chinatown to grab a cheap Baozi (steam bun), then headed off to the gym. After the gym, I made a supper that used up almost the last of our food stocks! The end is near! All in all, a good day!

 

 

Buddha From the V&A

Another Buddha

…And Yet Another Buddha.

 

Exquisite Arabian Carpet

 

Bronze Statue

 

Ivory Framed in Wood

V&A Courtyard

 

Entrance to the Natural History Museum

 

Darwin

FIRST EDITION!!!

 

Gibbon

The Rock Hall

 

Malachite

 

 

Topaz (Mom's Favorite)

 

Agate

 

Magnificent Opals!

 

Successful Saturday!

Successful Saturday!

Today was quite a busy day! The big highlights? I went to the Design Museum and also saw a play today.

I began my day by traveling to the Design Museum. It is a really cool building based in a converted warehouse. The main exhibitions of the day were an awesome jewelry design exhibit, and another level that contained a plethora of installations involving crystal and lights. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the descriptions and just examining the beautiful and well-designed objects.

After the museum, I ventured via tube to the Tricycle Theatre to see an adaptation of The Arabian Nights. It was a very interesting and creative adaptation of the classic tale of Scheherazade and the 1001 nights of stories. It was beautiful to watch, and ran the gamut of emotions, from funny to sad to nostalgic. All in all, a wonderful play.

The rest of my day involved an extremely long workout at the gym and then enjoying an evening of hanging out with my fellow Grinnellians. In the end, it was a superb way to spend my last Saturday in London! Pictures below!

 

Jewelry!

Awesome Projector Lamp/Kaleidoscope

Thousands of Crystals

 

Detail

Creative Crystals

 

Awesome Embroidered Poster

 

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Today was a very photo-tastic day!

I ventured over to Trafalgar Square today, hoping for some pictures of the square and of Nelson's column before I visited the National Gallery to see the paintings. However, as soon as I got to Trafalgar Square, I could see the beautiful light illuminating Big Ben and Parliament and knew I had to get some pictures. I hurried down Whitehall towards them and got to the area near Westminster as the clock struck three.

The light was absolutely perfect and I managed to snag some phenomenal shots. Check them out below. After the photoshoot, I headed back to the National Gallery and got to see some amazing paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, and more! Post-art-viewing, I headed to Leicester Square to check out the discount tickets for shows. I lucked out and managed to snag a seat for Wicked at an awesome price. After that, I hit the gym for a massive workout and then went to the grocery. All in all, a good day!

 

Nelson's Column

 

Down Whitehall

 

 

Big Ben

Parliament

Ben and Skies

Sepia-Toned

London Icons

I See the Eye

Perfect Light

The National Gallery

 

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Today was a very photo-tastic day!

I ventured over to Trafalgar Square today, hoping for some pictures of the square and of Nelson's column before I visited the National Gallery to see the paintings. However, as soon as I got to Trafalgar Square, I could see the beautiful light illuminating Big Ben and Parliament and knew I had to get some pictures. I hurried down Whitehall towards them and got to the area near Westminster as the clock struck three.

The light was absolutely perfect and I managed to snag some phenomenal shots. Check them out below. After the photoshoot, I headed back to the National Gallery and got to see some amazing paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, and more! Post-art-viewing, I headed to Leicester Square to check out the discount tickets for shows. I lucked out and managed to snag a seat for Wicked at an awesome price. After that, I hit the gym for a massive workout and then went to the grocery. All in all, a good day!

 

Nelson's Column

 

Down Whitehall

 

 

Big Ben

Parliament

Ben and Skies

Sepia-Toned

London Icons

I See the Eye

Perfect Light

The National Gallery

 

British Museum, Yet Again

British Museum, Yet Again

After a morning spent organizing and sorting out details, I made my way over to the British Museum for a quick visit before class. I ended up spending my time on only two artifacts, but it was time well spent. Today, I looked at the Rosetta Stone and an Easter Island Head.

I first examined the Easter Island statue. It was immense. Even though I have previously seen pictures of such statues, and even passed by this particular one to get to the Asian exhibits, it wasn't until I stopped and really looked at this statue at its feet that I realized how impressive and beautiful it is. It is so simple, yet elegant, without superfluous carvings or details. Just a timeless, simple stone face, watching for eternity. It also amazes me how little we know about these statues. They are famous around the world, yet no one has much, if any, information on their origin or meaning. It's so incredible knowing that this mystery just sits in front of us, a forgotten people with a forgotten culture.

The Rosetta Stone is another amazing relic, one that unlocked what could have been a mystery for ages, the secret of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics. This single slab of stone, marked in three languages and discovered by chance, was the key to understanding the Egyptians. In a world of “what ifs” where the Rosetta Stone remained buried and hidden, one can only imagine the frustration of the historians and archaeologists who could see and record the hieroglyphs, but could never understand their meaning. Another whole civilization would have been lost in the sea of time, leaving only the monuments and tombs as a beacon of their existence.

It's always interesting to reflect on our own time after seeing these incredible relics. What will survive of us? Thousands of years from now, what will the relics be? Will the generations that follow us be amazed by the primitive communication devices we carry? Will the iPhone sit in a glass case for viewing? Or will it be something else? Perhaps a Twinkie, still wrapped in its plastic? (…or perhaps not anymore, in light of Hostess closing down.) No matter what the object is, it would be interesting to see what little pieces of our modern world survive.

 

Easter Island Statue

 

The Rosetta Stone

 

Detail of the Rosetta Stone

 

Southbank Christmas Market and More!

Southbank Christmas Market and More!

Today was a wonderfully fun-filled day!

The day started with a fun trip to the Southbank Christmas Market, a fun menagerie of food and craft stands of the bank of the Thames. Although the weather was the London specialty of breezy, drizzly, and grey, we had quite a fun time exploring the various stands and seeing the entertainment. I picked up some roasted peanuts and cashews, which were scrumptious. I also couldn't resist the amazing cheese from one of the vendors. I had to get this spectacular cheddar with hot peppers embedded into it.

After the Christmas Market, I went to the Southbank Centre to check out an awesome exhibit on photojournalism. There were some absolutely stunning pictures on display, and it really made me reflect on all of the major events of 2012. There were some breathtaking shots from the anti-Gaddafi protests that I couldn't stop staring at. It was an excellent exhibit. Another exhibit at the nearby national theatre featured stunning landscape pictures from the United Kingdom, which were some of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen in my life.

After all of that, I came home, went to the gym, visited my favorite pub with my flatmates, then cooked myself a fun dinner. It consisted of a batch of quinoa, a dish of fried shrimp with egg, some wilted spinach in balsamic vinegar, a garlic cheddar roll, and a small portion of my newly-acquired cheese! All in all, a delectable meal to top off a busy day!

 

Why, yes, that man is playing a tuba/flamethrower combination!

 

Absolutely Delicious

 

Cheese? Please!

 

Happy to see the exhibit!

One of the many displays.

 

Dinner, Mistry-Style.

 

Viewing the Vatican and the Train to Naples

Viewing the Vatican and the Train to Naples

As I write this post, I am sitting in an Italian train carriage. The countryside is whipping by outside as the train speeds along towards Naples. I can see the endless vineyards, dotted with little villas, a splash of golden orange against the greens and grays. We are en route to our final city of the voyage, Sorrento, just south of Naples. It promises to be quite fun, especially if the weather cooperates. We have a four person apartment with a terrace overlooking the sea.

 

This morning, we awoke, got ready, ate the hotel breakfast of coffee and pastries, and headed for the train station. We then deposited our bags in a holding area, caught a subway train to near Vatican City, and walked to St. Peter's Square. We had expected to not encounter much of a wait, (this being a Wednesday morning in late October…) but there was a pretty long line to get in. We waited to enter the square and upon our entry, we immediately realized why the crowd was so massive today; the Pope was giving a speech!

 

We explored the square, took some photos, and marveled at the massive crowds and immense structures. Though we only had a short time, it was well worth seeing and we were pleasantly surprised to get to see the Pope speak. (This did, however, mean that the Basilica was closed to us, but that just means I will have to visit again someday soon.)

 

Rome wasn't built in a day, nor can it be seen in just two, but we really enjoyed seeing the parts we did. We saw the Coliseum, we saw the Pope, and we managed to see countless other ancient buildings. All in all, a pretty amazing city. Onwards to relaxation! Pictures below, per usual.

 

St. Peter's Square

 

Pope on the big screen

 

A Mass for the masses.

Cropped and zoomed from above photo.

 

Amid the sea of umbrellas

Bernini's Fountain

 

The Maderno Obelisk

 

“Rome-ing” Around Rome

“Rome-ing” Around Rome

Today was an sightseeing-packed day!

After a small breakfast at the hotel, we ventured into central Rome. Our first visit was the Severan Complex of Roman ruins. (These are a massive complex of ruins, gardens, paths, and more.) After a few hours of hiking around, taking pictures of the various ruins and the nearby Coliseum, and listening in on tours, we were pretty famished.

 

We had a nice, relaxed dinner at a small restaurant a few blocks away from the ruins. After the ravioli-recharge, I felt great and ready to see some more of Rome. We continued our adventure around the city. We saw tons of amazing sites, from the Pantheon, to the Piazza Navona, to the Piazza del Popolo.

 

Finally exhausted, we returned home to rest and rise again tomorrow. We plan to see the Vatican and then venture onward to our final city of the trip, Sorrento.

 

Stay tuned, and enjoy the pictures!

 

Waiting in line, ready to go.

 

The Coliseum

Ruined Roman Arch

Part of the Severan Complex

Caitlin and I enjoying the Severan Complex

Totally Obeying the Rules

View From the Severan Complex

Ruins

Column I

Column II

Coliseum

View within the Ruins

 

Climbing the Coliseum

 

Group Shot!

Church Bells!

Ruins

Statue

Piazza di San Marcello

Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuel II

Pantheon

 

Oculus Within Pantheon

 

Pantheon Interior

 

Gelato Break! (Mango, Dark Chocolate, & Strawberry)

 

Fountain from Piazza Navona

 

Statue from Piazza del Popolo