Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birds of a Feather ...

Egret by Ellen McHale

Birds - I love them and I don't love them. I love to hear their song and watch them frolic in our fountain in the garden.  The bird feeder is always full thanks to my husband.  I think the cardinals actually talk to him and tell him when the food needs to be replenished.  As a show of thanks, they hang around the garden and build their nests and treat us to a colorful show of reds, yellows, blues and greens.  They bring the delight into our garden.

I'm also afraid of birds.   It began when I first watched Alfred Hitchcock's, The Birds - that did me in.  I think I was 4 or 5 years old and my brothers were watching The Birds on our little black and white televison set.  I wanted to be with my brothers so I decided to be brave and watch  - just so I could hang out with them.  Unfortunately for me, they moved on to better things and left me sitting on the couch alone.  My mother found me.  Since then, I'm afraid of birds.  

I am also inspired by their beauty and have tried my best to capture their serenity in my artwork.  I thought I would show you a few of my favorite pieces ...

A Mother Goose by Ellen McHale

Cardinal in Winter by Ellen McHale

Xenops by Ellen McHale

Bill's Cardinals by Ellen McHale

Rooster by Ellen McHale

Peace Dove by Ellen McHale

Partridge in a Pear Tree by Ellen McHale

Owl by Ellen McHale

" A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?"

             ~ Edward Hersey Richards

Have a great week and see you soon,

Monday, July 18, 2011

I see London, I see France ...

Queen's Guard

Just back from a wonderful vacation in London and Paris.  We had the good fortune of some pretty spectacular weather.  Who knew you could get a tan in London or in my case - a sun burn? I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures of our trip - who knows - it just might inspire you to visit.

Camping outside of Westminster Abbey

There is still a lot of love surrounding the recent marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  This sign was just outside of Westminster Abbey in the area where the protestors usually are set-up.  It looks like anything but a protest.

Outside of Buckingham Palace

While I am still on the subject of love ... I snapped this picture of a couple just leaving the Queen's Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.  They seemed more real than the other couples leaving in their top hats and garden frocks.

Inspection of Guards

This is one of my favorite pictures.  Even though the guards were oh-so-serious in their inspection of the soldiers at the Tower - a little smile could still be had if you looked close enough.

Yeoman Warder

Queen's Guard at The Tower of London


This raven is one of 8 that reside in the Tower of London.  There is a superstitious story that says if the ravens no longer exist at the Tower then the British Monarchy will be no more.  6 of these birds wander the grounds and 2 extra birds are cared for within the palace just in case something happens to any of the 6.  The birds' wings are clipped so they cannot fly away.

Wire Monkey Sculpture

The Fox guarding the Thames

Ship in a Bottle, Trafalgar Square

Living Landscape Artwork next to National Gallery

Artwork is everywhere you look.  The above pieces of art were found in our travels around London.  Some were outside museums and others were on top of bridges, towers and columns.  Whether you visit a museum or just take a stroll - beauty is everywhere.

Skate park in London

This was one of my son's favorite finds.  The pictures do not do it justice but under this overpass near the London Eye was one of the coolest skate parks ever.  We watched a modelling shoot happen all the while bikers and skateboarders were competing for attention.  

Big Ben

The London Eye

Tudor Courtyard at The Tower

After enjoying the sites in London we rode the Eurostar from London to Paris. If you have the time, it is worth the extra bit of travel.  The Eurostar travels through the Chunnel and arrives in Paris in just a little over two hours.  I've done a day trip to Paris with my friends when I lived over in London but to see Paris properly you need to spend an ample amount of time.  

Liam in front of the Pyramid at the Louvre

I.M. Pei's pyramid marks the entrance to the Louvre museum.  This was our first stop when we arrived in Paris.  It truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Louvre Courtyard

Cooling our tootsies in the fountain

The courtyard at the Louvre is breathtaking. You don't need to do anything more than sit with your feet in the water and take in all the sites around you.  If there wasn't so much to see - we would have stayed there all day long.

Best view of Paris

Liam and Erin had the best view in Paris in this ride over at the Louvre Carrousel.  It is an area only steps from the Louvre that has some of the finest shopping, hotels and restaurants in Paris.  There is even  a Ferris Wheel and other rides in the Tuileries Garden to keep kids of all ages happy.  

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower never fails to impress day or night.  We had the most magical evening one night at a restaurant called Les Ombres. It is one of the most romantic restaurants that is encased in glass so that you can gaze constantly upon the Eiffel Tower.  Les Ombres actually means "the shadow" and they are referring to the looming Eiffel Tower that can be seen wherever you look within the restaurant.  You can take your cocktail outside on the roof deck to gaze on the Tower or just sit back and allow the magnificent waiters to bring out incredible food.  If you are so fortunate to be there at night as we were, then you are treated to the magic of the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower that show themselves the first 10 minutes of every hour.  You really have to pinch yourself.

Arc de Triomphe

Carnivale on the Champs Elysees

Love Lock Bridge

Closer inspection of Love Lock Bridge

One of my favorite surprises was coming upon Love Lock Bridge on the Pont des Arts footbridge leading toward the Academy of Arts and Letters.  People in love from all over the world set their "love lock" onto the bridge wires overlooking the Seine.   It is really a sight to see.  If you don't happen to have a lock with you, a vendor is there to offer up a lock to help you profess your love.

Mona Lisa

Of course, you can't travel all the way to Paris and visit the Louvre without being pulled to view the Mona Lisa.  Even if you have seen if before, it is always worth the trip again.


Montmartre is one of our favorite places in Paris.  It is a village of artisans and a very colorful neighborhood.  It is known as the premiere artist's enclave in the city.  Pissarro, Degas, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso all lived in Montmartre at one point.  It is so wonderful to spend the day, have some lunch at an outdoor cafe and wander among the artists stalls.  You can have your portrait sketched or a silhouette made by any one of the talented artists that call this village home or you can just peruse the aisles of oil paintings, water colors and prints - and maybe bring back a memory of your trip.

Liam having his portrait done

Portrait Completed

When Liam was six years old, we had a portrait drawn of him here in Montmartre.  We wanted to have another one made of him and this time, Liam walked through all the stalls and he chose the artist to draw him.  He has a good eye because this artist was one of the best in Montmartre.  Liam said it was his favorite memory of Paris!

Do we have to go?

There is too much to see and there never seems to be enough time to absorb it all.  We had a fabulous trip and yet we would love just a little more time to sit at a cafe and watch the world go by.  
There is always next time ...
Bon Jour
See You soon,