Eye on Art / 20

Hi friends!

How are you? How are things? I think we can both agree: it has been far too long since I last posted here. This semester has been a whirlwind of good things, but I’m grateful to be home, however briefly, for my spring break. Since Brown schedules the vacation so late, I’m keeping it quiet: a few days to plan out remaining assignments and applications, the chance to see friends who are home for Easter, and a day trip into New York to see Hamilton (!!!) for the weekend.

I’ll also be using this week to catch up on reading and blogging – my pile of library books and folder of post drafts seem to grow by the day! I’ve had this edition of Eye on Art in the works for a month now, so I’m delighted that I’m finally able to share it. These three artists work nothing short of magic with their chosen materials, be it paper, colored pencil, or paint, and seeing their portfolios has me itching to return to the studio. As I browse art class possibilities, let me ask: are there any artists you’ve been crushing on as of late?

Lorraine NamTo kick things off, I think it’s hard to look at the work of paper artist Lorraine Nam and not smile. While her well-picked color palettes are worthy of note alone, I can’t get over her deftness with scissors and paper, through which she creates entire worlds. I suppose it’s a testament to her eye for small details – the mini trailer! the bookshelf! the tattoos! – that I can look at her pieces and find something new to admire every time.

I first came across Lorraine’s art when it graced the cover of Country Living (see it here), but I continue to follow it through her Instagram; it’s such a colorful highlight of my feed, and I love the small glimpses into her artistic process. Her recent project for International Women’s Day ranks as my current favorite, but let’s be honest: if I could see any of these in person, I’d be a happy camper. {website}

Natalie FossCall it a habit: I love to take note of the artists whose work appears in the pages of a magazine. I do it with Country Living, but I also do it with Entertainment Weekly, where I fell in love with a piece from Norwegian illustrator Natalie Foss. It took only a brief look at her portfolio before I was calling myself a full-fledged fan. How could I not? Her work is outer-worldly, captivating, and, most impressively, drawn entirely in colored pencil.

There’s no doubt that her portraits, with their soulful expressions, are amazing, but what I’m drawn to most is actually the star-dusted hands, shown above. As my studio class has proven to me this semester, hands can be harder to draw than they look, but Natalie makes it look effortless. That in mind, can I have a print of my own? {website}

Anna HoyleFinally, if you like art that makes you chuckle, look no further than Anna Hoyle’s portfolio of paintings. Based in Melbourne, Anna showcases a punchy sense of humor and a bright use of color in her series, aptly titled “Books.” Though they remind me of a retro age, the paintings are a response to the intersections between books and modern media. As she says, “A lot of the books I paint are the kind of ridiculous or absurd things that you might want to look up on the internet. They are kind of follies.”

If you weren’t already in love, Anna isn’t limited to book paintings, as she also boasts a wide collection of ink drawings and other illustrations. Nevertheless, my heart remains with her silly, satirical illustrations. I want them to line my (admittedly, imaginary) home library walls. {website}

Have a wonderful start to your week!
B

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Fudgy Banana Bread

Hi!

Fudgy Banana BreadCall it the dining hall blues, but every time I return to school after a trip home, I wish for a kitchen in which I can whip up my own meals. I’m grateful, of course, for the convenience and variety of my meal plan selections, but after a long day of classes and activities, my heart sometimes longs for a serving of homemade mac-and-cheese or a chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven. I suppose my cravings speak to the power of comfort food and its ability to transport and soothe simultaneously.

For a prime example of such dishes, one can do no better than a loaf of banana bread — except, perhaps, by adding a bit of chocolate! When I saw this rich rendition of the household favorite, I knew instantly that I’d need to make it for myself. The recipe delivered: the bread is decadent, fudgy, and flavorful. It’s, in short, comfort food at its finest, a recipe that could easily make a sweet surprise for a friend. With all this said, it’s no wonder that today, as my sister recently informed me, is National Banana Bread Day. A dessert this beloved deserves a holiday to itself.

As always, some kitchen notes to keep in mind. First, you can keep this in the fridge (my family simply heats up slices in the microwave), but I find it best enjoyed the day it’s made. Second, you’re free to skip the sliced banana on top if you fear too sunken of a bread, but I love the look – and taste! – of it. And finally, I haven’t tried this with chocolate chips, but I imagine it would be an utter delightIf you’re feeling adventurous and try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes.

Fudgy Banana BreadFudgy Banana Bread Adapted from Alison Roman’s Dining In (via A Cup of Jo)

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (alternatively, use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 5 ripe bananas, four mashed and one sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream

to make

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray or grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, then sprinkle the pan with 1/4 cup granulated sugar so it is coated. Tap out excess sugar.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla for 3-5 minutes. Mixture will be light.
  4. Add the egg, and beat two minutes more.
  5. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Mix in the mashed bananas and sour cream by hand.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place the banana halves, cut side up, on top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar on top.
  7. Bake for 90-100 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (save for a few moist crumbs).
  8. Let cool before slicing, and enjoy!

Have a lovely Friday!
Bella

High Five / 17

Hi friends!

Long time, no see! How are you? How are things? Though my semester has been off to a wonderful start, I’m nevertheless grateful to be home until Wednesday for the long weekend. I’m even more thankful that this break allows me some time to blog. I’ve missed sharing here on Ciao Bella, but what better way to ease back into blogging than a new High Five?!

Before I share the highlights of my week, however, a moment: it would be remiss not to mention the devastating school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I’m grieving for the students, educators, and families impacted by the incident, I’m angry that this is no longer a shock to those in the U.S., and I’m frustrated, if inspired, that teens are able to take more action than those in the government (I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I consume news, how I react to news, and how privilege is intertwined in both, but that’s a conversation for another day).  If you, like me, are looking for tangible ways to help, I found this link to be useful. Change can only happen if we act now.

High Five 17[1] To start, can we chat about my latest television obsession, Netflix’s American Vandal? A hilarious play on true-crime breakouts like Serial and Making a Murderer, the eight-episode series follows aspiring documentarian and high school sophomore Peter as he investigates the innocence of classmate – and class clown – Dylan Maxwell. The crime in question? Vandalizing the cars of twenty-seven teachers with phallic images as a supposed prank. I was skeptical at first (what should one expect from a show with the tagline, “Who drew the dicks?”), but its sharp storytelling and authentic portrayal of high school life quickly won me over. The profanity is aplenty, but if you’re in need of an engrossing and humorous example of satire, I can think of no better show to try (and then you’ll be ready for Season Two, due out later this year!). Have you watched American Vandal or any other Netflix series as of late?

[2] As I mentioned in my last post, I study and work best when I have music playing in the background. With the semester fully underway, you can thus imagine how much my Spotify account has been put to use. One of the albums I’ve enjoyed most was actually just released: folk group I’m With Her’s See You Around, which came out on Friday. I’ve been eagerly counting down the days since I stumbled upon their music in the summer, but the wait was entirely worth it – I can’t get enough of all twelve tracks! Like The Staves, another musical trio I adore, artists Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan share impeccable harmonies and warm voices (you would never believe they’ve only been singing together since 2014). My favorite songs are “Game to Lose” and “Ryland (Under the Apple Tree),” but listen to any of their music and I know they’ll make you a fan.

[3] February has been moving so quickly that Valentine’s Day snuck right up on me! While I recognize that much of the holiday is based on the commercial sales of cards and chocolates, I still love that there’s a day devoted to expressing appreciation to the people who matter to you most. I suppose it’s then fitting that my current read is Rookie on Love, which I received from my mom as a sweet Valentine’s Day present. Any longtime reader of Ciao Bella knows how much I admire Tavi Gevinson and her work – all four Rookie yearbooks hold a coveted spot on my bookshelf – so it’s little surprise that I’m digging this anthology, a love-themed, love-centered collection of poems, essays, and stories from a diverse set of authors. YA fans, in particular, would do well to check it out. (On a similar note, this recent interview with Tavi is also a fun read).

[4] When I wasn’t shopping classes or catching up with friends over these past few weeks, chances are you’d find me in rehearsal for Julius Caesar: Femmes, Romans, Countrymen, an all-femme rendition of Shakespeare’s play. Working on this show was my first opportunity to stage manage in college, and I couldn’t be happier to have been a member of the technical team; it was one of the most thoughtful, loving, and creative productions I’ve had the pleasure of working on. We had a bittersweet close to the process on Monday, but the entire cast and crew is committed to staying in touch, even as our schedules part in separate ways. Fortunately, on my end, Brown theatre keeps me busy – I’ve already started work as the general manager for a production of Heathers in April! If you’d like a taste of the show, a Facebook live stream is available HERE. Have you seen or been a part of any productions recently?

[5] Finally, I was fortunate to snag tickets to a presentation by Tarana Burke, the #MeToo founder and activist, last week. She gave a wonderful, thought-provoking talk and was so engrossing in conversation with Brown professor Emily Owens. I appreciate her sharing her experiences, as I left the presentation even more determined to do my part in the ever-growing movement. To that end, it felt fitting to attend after reading the accounts of sexual assault in the kidlit community collected by author Anne Ursu. How and when the change in publishing will occur, I’m not certain, but I do know, as Burke said herself, we “have to be drivers of this conversation.”

And with that, I wish you the most wonderful Sunday.
B