Forcing forsythia, a blast of color to make spring hurry up!

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Forced forsythia branches in bloom.

Winter is in no hurry to step aside for spring, it seems, though the signs of spring are unmistakable out there. The snowdrops are past their peak, daffodil and tulip leaves are reaching out of the soil for the sky, and there are buds starting to swell on every flowering shrub, vine, and tree around. We’ve already sown a whole row of peas in the garden, as well as escarole, frisée, radishes, spinach, chard, beets, carrots, parsley, and that’s only outside! Inside we are sharing our home with trays of onion, leek, shallot and scallion seedlings, lettuces, cabbages, kales and broccoli, too. Soon it will be time to sow tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, and the anticipation for summer becomes almost mouthwatering. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as there are still remnants of the last snowfall on the ground, and every morning lately the birdbath has been iced over. Spring weather will take over soon, I know, I just have to be a little more patient.

To help get this transition from winter to spring going, I find it helps to brighten things up and the most willing accomplice to this end are the generous forsythia bushes on our property, happy to donate some of their branches to the cause.  I try and cut branches that are quite tall so I can put together a dramatic display in our largest vase, but I also pick some that are much more manageable, to help spread the cheer throughout the house here and there. Forcing the blooms in this way takes perhaps a week but soon the bare branches burst forth sunny, yellow flowers that warm the heart and assure the mind that winter truly is behind us.

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Doughnut Plant in New York City inspires a new photo!

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Doughnuts from The Doughnut Plant

Feast on these gorgeous doughnuts! Today my husband and I paid a visit to Doughnut Plant on Grand Street in New York City. We had not been for quite a few years, and we thought it was high time we treated ourselves to two coffees and two doughnuts, plus some to take home to sample and photograph, as you can see. In the shop we enjoyed a pistachio yeast doughnut and a vanilla bean & blackberry jam filled yeast doughnut. Divine! Pictured here are wild blueberry cake doughnut (lovely color), a chocolate hazelnut doughseed, Valrhona chocolate yeast doughnut, cinnamon sugar cake doughnut and finally, a Meyer lemon yeast doughnut. Whew! Definitely a place to visit next time you are in New York City!

This doughnut still life is now available on my Etsy shop. Yes, doughnuts can be art too.

Doughnut Plant has two locations in NYC, on the Lower East Side and in Chelsea.
379 Grand Street, between Essex and Norfolk
or
220 West 23rd Street, btwn 7th & 8th Aves in The Chelsea Hotel

When a photo finds a good home, a fellow artist’s studio – Gleena Ceramics

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High Tea by Diana Pappas

Several years ago in my younger and braver days, I snuck into an abandoned china factory in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and I was just in time too because the factory was being demolished. The place honestly looked like it had been bombed, and there I was, working my way through the mess to see if there were any photographs to be had. I stopped in my tracks when I saw the last remaining dinnerware, stacked up and waiting for demolition, and perhaps waiting for me to preserve it before the wrecking ball finished its job. I called my photograph High Tea, and it was a fabulous souvenir to take home with me (though some of that crockery would have been nice too!). “High Tea” has been available on my Etsy shop for a while but it only found a home yesterday thanks to a lovely treasury by Laine of Ingleside Pottery.

Treasuries are an interesting concept – other Etsy buyers and sellers put together groupings of Etsy listings in pleasing and interesting ways, and these treasuries, if they are good enough, get promoted and shared. The resulting exposure can be a real help when you’re trying to find buyers for your work as all sellers are. In this case, the buyer of High Tea was also featured in the treasury, Asya Palatova of Gleena Shop on Etsy. Her charming O is for Owl wee tea cup caught my eye right away, and when I looked further, beyond her Etsy shop and to her website, I was blown away by her work and immediately started imagining her dinnerware on my table.

O is for Owl tea cup from Gleena's Shop

Asya bought High Tea to hang in her studio for inspiration – how cool is that? She even did some sleuthing about the china factory, learning about its history and the reason for its demise. It feels so good that High Tea is on its way to her. When you’re as attached to a work as much as I am, you really want the photograph to find a good home, a place where the work will be displayed and enjoyed for many moons to come. It will be interesting to see if Asya brings back any of these old shapes, but updated in her unique style. Here is more of her beautiful work, both in progress (as the pieces in High Tea were) and finished.  http://gleena.com

Gleena Ceramics by Asya Palatova

Fish and chips and a walk on the beach

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Fish and Chips

Having married into an English family, I am happily adopting my husband’s traditions, tastes and favorite things like Yorkshire Tea(with milk only, no sugar) and football (soccer).  I’ve even learned some basic translations so I can speak British English when I’m overseas: thermos = flask, backyard = garden, fries = chips, chips = crisps, dinner = tea, dessert = pudding, and so on! One tradition I find myself craving today is that of a blustery, brisk walk on a cold beach followed by a well-earned feast of piping-hot fish and chips with a side of mushy peas, of course, and a pot of tea. The walk and the meal complement each other so perfectly! We’ve had some great fish and chips in England, most notably at The Magpie in Whitby, but also at the Waterford Arms in Seaton Sluice (pictured above, prints available in my Etsy shop). The walk on this particular September day was a real treat, blinding sunshine and some lovely cloud formations. Looking forward for my next walk along the North Sea followed by fish and chips!

Seaton Sluice

Selling on Etsy, plus my current favorite photograph inspired by Jane Austen

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Jane Austen photo Dashwood Cottage by Diana Pappas

Do you shop on Etsy? I do, and everyday I am amazed by the truly fantastic creative works of art and design out there, no matter the medium. From illustrations to tote bags to pottery to knitwear to some seriously funky and fantastic vintage finds, there’s something for everyone on Etsy. I’ve been selling my photography there seriously for the last couple of years and I have to say it has been a slow process to get some sort of momentum in terms of sales.

Lately I’ve been taking on the challenge of how to make my photography more appealing to a buyer, how to help a buyer visualize what a print will be like when it is on actual fine art paper and not just a bunch of pixels on a screen. So today my husband and I went outside on this dreary overcast winter day and I posed him in front of our weathered garden fence (which is usually obscured by globe thistles, cosmos or monarda in the growing season – just typing this sentence is getting me incredibly excited for summer!) with a print. I should say that this is not just any print, this is one of my favorite photographs that I’ve ever taken, Dashwood Cottage.

I took this photograph in England a couple of years ago, on a blissful July day when all was seemingly right with the world and my life. Being there is a very peaceful memory for me. I call the photo Dashwood Cottage because I can just imagine Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (from Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility) to be at home. Above the weathered red door it says 1669, and I just love the trained yellow roses and the ladies mantle border that seems to tumble over under the weight of its chartreuse blooms. The photo is perpetual summer for me, just the thing I need to look at today!

Dune Bouquet: dried wildflowers on a dune in Northumberland

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Dried Bouquet by Diana Pappas

I’d like to share this bouquet of dried English wildflowers with you, captured on a dune along the North Sea in England. Even though the flowers were dried up and past their prime, I was drawn to the egg-yolk centers that remained. It’s a great color, isn’t it? Warm and golden, as if the flowers were still holding on to that summer sun. Does anyone out there know what kind of flowers these are? I’d love to know!

Winter Color – a blast of chartreuse and cinnamon

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Growth and Decay by Diana Pappas

Spring will soon invade with its beautiful pastels but I thought why not take a moment and indulge in some winter colors – or colours as they say in England! When I was in England for the holidays I fell in love with the wonderful winter colors around me, especially the cinnamon-colored dead bracken and fallen larch needles, and the glowing chartreuse of the ferns, mosses and grasses still hanging on despite the cold. It was a gorgeous landscape to get lost in!

In Growth and Decay, above, the colors combined beautifully, and I loved the touch of pale blue lichen on the stones and on the tree trunk to set it off. The growth of the tree and the decay of the dry stone wall was a perfect complement to the growth of the moss and ferns and the decay of the bracken. Growth and Decay is available on my Etsy shop, though here are a few more colorful favorites from the same day’s walk.

Bracken by Diana Pappas Larch needles on a track by Diana Pappas Bracken and spring by Diana Pappas