Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Blogging’

Folio // Rome mid-Winter

Ready yourselves, the Spring is here at last. It’s felt like an eternal winter, in England at least, and as Spring arrives – and a new sense of optimism for the season of Summer dawns upon us – I’m whisking Daily Norm readers off to the land of verdant Spring-like plenty: Tuscany. But before we depart for there, let’s wish Rome arrivederci the proper way, with a good old fashioned photographic exhibition of some of the city’s most characterful details.

DSC00535DSC00720DSC01083DSC00793DSC01192DSC01076

Taken back in January, during a very sunny weekend which was more than sufficient to blow away the chill of winter, this folio of photos is full of a warmth which betrays little of time of year. Walking through streets emboldened with strong creamy sunlight and hard long shadows, it was hard to believe that we were not enjoying Rome mid-summer. Only the lack of leaves, and the odd presence of a Christmas decoration left-over conveyed the time of the year. But if all winters were like this, even I, summer fanatic, could probably cope with them.

DSC01085DSC01077DSC00848DSC00811DSC00559DSC01058

Terracotta walls, cobbled streets, the shiny silvery Tiber and silhouettes of church domes and pine trees – these photos which are less Rome landmark and more street details. For my favourite part of Rome sightseeing is not exploring the Forum, and less the Colosseum. Rather it is having the chance to wander streets steeped in history, to enjoy the glow which emanates from sun filled streets, and the vivacious, edgy attitude which characterises Romans and their city alike.

DSC01173DSC00616DSC00857DSC00607DSC00469DSC00515DSC00618

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Beauty and the Beast from the East

They call it “the Beast from the East” – a Siberian shock wave of icy blasts and perilously wintery temperatures which has swept onto the shores of the UK and shows no sign of budging. Yet with the “Beast” has come the snow: a transformative blanket of pure, frosty white which has proved to be the very antithesis of beastly, as a very chilly but utterly mesmerising walk around my local park was to prove.

I have seen Clapham Common in every season, and have often obsessed myself over the light filtering through its lush summer leaves, or the auburn tones of its autumn face. Yet I don’t think I have ever been so stunned by the beauty of Clapham Common as when I was seeing it dressed, like a blushing bride, in an unbroken veil of white. Covering metre upon metre of grassy planes, and managing to find its way onto even the tiniest of tree branch, lamp post and railing, the snow rendered Clapham Common completely transformed, and the result was divine. I have never seen a familiar place so changed, nor the local residents so equally dazzled by this new manifestation.

DSC01561DSC01556DSC01548DSC01459DSC01500DSC01466DSC01529

It’s incredible what nature can create when left to its own devices. Take the pond for example. It wasn’t just frozen, but some effect of the water underneath had created large circular patterns all over its surface like a retro design from the 60s. Meanwhile, the way in which white would gather at the trunks of trees, but leave green and orange trunks and branches revealed, lent an ever better contrast to the colours, like a freshly daubed application of unmixed paint on a white canvas.

But of course beauty is fragile, and within an hour of taking these photos, the sun disappeared, and a fresh gale of blizzards took its place. The Belle of the ball had left the dance floor, and the fearsome Beast had returned to dominate the airwaves once again.

DSC01558DSC01545DSC01511DSC01480DSC01470DSC01438DSC01472

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Flower burst: Red Amaryllis

Buying fresh flowers is always a pleasure. You watch them open, you breathe deep of their sweet, nuanced perfume, and transform a corner of your home with their splendid colour. But alas, within days, their majesty is at an end, and their delicate structure becomes a vision of faded beauty. Happily, the process of flower growth and nurture can often last longer, and one of my favourite annual rituals is to buy a potted amaryllis bulb and, over the first weeks of the year, watch it grow.

DSC01278

I am always fascinated by the slow progress of the amaryllis flower, as a green shoot emerges from the innocuous brown bulb, and seems to escalate higher and higher until you wonder if it will ever stop. But then suddenly, as though exhausted by the effort of climbing some 40 or even 50 centimetres into the air, the flower shifts its focus to the lateral explosion of its colourful petal-rich head.

This year, I watched on in delight as I saw a very long green stalk open up into the most resplendent array of blood-rich red as my amaryllis burst open into four magnificent floral crowns. Almost swaying in surprise at the bounty of its own offerings, my amaryllis is top heavy with its heady creation, but somehow remains standing for many days of enjoyment. And just as I see the petals turn slowly decrepit with age, a new flower shoot bursts up from the side in reserve.

DSC01281DSC01313DSC01286DSC01275

And so for days ahead, another floral array awaits me, as the newest manifestation of my amaryllis steps into the spotlight.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Post 1004 | Mountains Pass

I feel giddy with the excitement of this past week on The Daily Norm. Celebrating the moment when my blog reached 1000 posts gave me a perfect opportunity to take a retrospective glance back across 6 years of musings, and realise just how vital blogging has become in my life. As this week nears its end, I felt it was time to look forwards again, and as The Daily Norm surges forwards into a new thousand, I wanted to share one of my newest artworks with you.

Entitled Mountains Pass, this gouache was inspired by the most momentous of train journeys which we enjoyed on a perfectly streamlined, brilliantly efficient Swiss train as we traversed the boarder between Italy and Switzerland and sped through the stunningly snow-topped Alpine scenery on our way to Zurich. Journeys are so often a means to an end, but this one was an event all of its own.

Mountains Pass FINAL

Mountains Pass (Journey to Zurich) ©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper

Sitting in the very luxurious first class carriage, we were able to enjoy these views from the comfiest of seats; and the views couldn’t have been any better. As if they weren’t vast enough already, the enormous mountains were doubled by their reflection is mirror-still lakes, while up their craggy sides, little idyllic wooden chalets pumped small streams of log fire smoke into the clear blue sky. It was just like the most perfect Christmas card image blown up into super-sized reality.

So from that journey to this: a simple gouache which, with modern lines and an earthy colour palette which recalls the scenery as it sped past our windows and I gazed, captivated, by the majesty of landscape before me. As the mountains passed by, this image lodged itself in my mind. Now it’s on paper and ripe to be shared in this new era of The Daily Norm.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Post 1003 | My top 10 Norm Sketches

I’m having a jolly old week. Reaching 1000 posts (well now 1003) on The Daily Norm has provided me with a wholly satisfactory opportunity to take a look back over the last 6 and a bit years of Daily Norm posting and feel thoroughly proud of my achievement. But of course this blog would be nothing without the protagonist at its heart: the Norm.

While Norm emerged from my imagination some time before The Daily Norm hit your screens, it was only upon the advent of the blog that I started creating what has now become a staple of Norm expression: the Norm Sketch. Presented in various shades of grey and sepia, the Norm sketches have enabled me to show Norms in every kind of pose, mischief and travel indulgence, and in today’s retrospective post, I am delighted to share 10 of my all time favourite Norm sketches.

Venice Norms

Norms in Venice (©2012, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Saint Jerome Norm

Saint Jerome Norm (©2014, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Norms La Pajarita Sweetshop

Norms at La Pajarita, Palma de Mallorca (©2017, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

 

It can only be seen as a coincidence that the Norms seem to have travelled to most of my favourite places…why, the Norms are almost as well travelled as their creator. Little surprise then that amongst my favourite sketches here featured are the Norms in the stunning Croatian town of Dubrovnik, the Norms on the old rickety trams of Lisbon, Norms in the dreamy gardens of the Musée Rodin in Paris and, from my all time favourite Italian series, the Norms in that romantic city of Venice. But just as The Daily Norm office relocated to Mallorca between the years of 2014-2016, so too did the Norms, and here we can see them at La Pajarita sweetshop – the quaintest boutique in Palma.

Tube Norms

Norms on the Tube (©2011, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Norm Last Supper

The Norm Last Supper (©2014, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Olympic Torch Norms

Norms carry the Olympic Torch (©2012, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Lisbon Norms Trams

Norms in Lisbon (©2012, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Now back in London, the Norms are getting used to being back on the commuter conveyor belt, an image which Norms on the Tube illustrated so well. Sadly there are no London Olympics for them to attend as back in 2012, but this sketch of the Norms carrying the Olympic torch on its final journey along the Thames past Hampton Court reminds them of that magical time. Talking of magic, the Norms’ religious series remains one of my all time favourites. Sparkling with gold leaf additions, I adore Saint Jerome Norm of the Saints series, while the Norm Last Supper is one of my all time Norm highlights. But from the light, into the darkness, this collection wouldn’t be complete without a look back on the creepy delight of Norms in the haunted Halloween ghost house – a truly eery, atmospheric image. 

Rodin Norms

Norms at the Musée Rodin, Paris (©2012, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Dubrovnik Norms Walls

Norms in Dubrovnik (©2014, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Halloween Norms

Halloween Norms (©2012, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

It’s testament to the sheer success of the Norms that asides from those three images I expressly reserved for myself, all of the above featured Norm sketches have been sold and are now enjoyed in the homes of Norm fans across London and beyond. I told you Norms like to travel, and they simply love to grace the homes of their fans too 🙂

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Post 1002 | Kissing Norms win top spot for Saint Valentine’s

Exactly 6 years ago to the day, I posted my latest painted Norm interpretation of a world-renowned masterpiece: The Kiss, by Gustav Klimt. The original is one of art history’s most enduring images of love, passion and even, it is suggested, an enigmatic forced passion, although in my Norm version, there is nothing but pure and tender affection to be seen between these two loved-up Norms. Indeed, my Norm version of Klimt’s masterpiece proved almost as popular as original. With well over 10,000 views, this painting is by far the most admired of my Norm paintings to have been posted on The Daily Norm. What a perfect coincidence then that it should be this iconic image of love which makes the top of the Norm greatest hit list on this, St Valentine’s Day, in what is also a week of celebration for the Daily Norm’s reaching 1000 posts.

Klimt Norms FINAL

Klimt Norms (©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2012, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas)

So while I go all loved up and celebratory over this much loved and far-reaching image of Norm passion, as well as for all the Norm images that have gone before and since, what more can be said than to thank all the readers of The Daily Norm who have given this, and other Norm images their love over the last 6 years, and the masterful, enigmatic Klimt of course, whose original image lay the foundation for this interpretation. Valentine’s love can manifest in many different ways. So whether you’re snuggled up to a loved one, a friend, or just loving doing you’re favourite things this Valentine’s Day, be sure to feel the love and enjoy it. 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Post 1001 | Your favourite ever Daily Norm article

Continuing the week’s celebrations of reaching 1000 posts on The Daily Norm, I wanted to revisit the post which, statistically, was the most popular of my original posts. When I say “original”, I am referring to posts containing my own photography – for the posts when I reviewed art exhibitions scored the most visits of them all. But with over 20,000 visits, this post, which originally went out on 5 July 2012, is my post popular ever collection of photos. And happily, some 6 years on, we are still very much enjoying this little corner of urban garden paradise…

First posted 5 July 2012: My Urban Balcony Garden

When you live in a city, like I do, here in the big smoke of London, every inch of greenery becomes important. When I travelled down to Glyndebourne the other day, surrounded by all of those lush green hills, and the conspicuous silence interrupted only by the occasional sheep cry, it made me realise just how lucky rural dwellers are to be surrounded by that constant beauty and tranquility. Yet it is only human nature not to appreciate what we have when we’ve got it. For all I know, the residents of those sussex country manners probably envy we Londoners who have the whole cultural world right on our doorstep.

I do like to count my blessings however, and I actually think writing a blog, which encourages one to reflect more on one’s life, making the most of occasions, events and opportunities for the sake of sharing and recollecting interesting and unique snapshots of life, makes us bloggers appreciate life with a renewed vitality and a very sharp focus. And one thing that I have always appreciated, albeit perhaps more so as my time living in London grows longer and my hours of work increase, is the green space around me.

dsc08742dsc08754dsc08724dsc08730dsc08722

I may only have a balcony to exhaust my green fingers, but that balcony, which runs along the front of my entire flat, is my pride and joy. There is much to be said for the urban balcony. Not only does it help to make urban life more bearable, more colourful, and more sensorily enriched, but also helps to give nature a bit of a kickstart – there have, for example, been reports of huge rises in the numbers of urban dwellers keeping beehives, so many in fact that there are now a surplus of bees for the numbers of suitably pollinating flowers available across the city. I don’t have bees, but what I have created on my balcony is my own piece of tropical paradise. I’ve surrounded my small table and chairs and my all important sun lounger with my own little slice of Spain. There I have a large brugmansia (whose flowers are spectacular bell-shaped blooms which smell glorious at night – they’re not out yet but rest assured, I will share on The Daily Norm once they are), a passion flower, an olive tree, grasses and plenty of geraniums. I’ve also encouraged honeysuckle to grow up the wall, and this year, for the first time, introduced some strawberries into the mix.

Because my urban balcony garden is a natural extension of my lounge which has a very contemporary red, black and white colour scheme, I have attempted to continue that out onto the balcony, with modern galvanised steel planters, and plenty of vivid red geraniums, which mark a wonderful contrast against the building’s crisp white washed walls and the black and grey grasses I have planted intermittently amidst blood-red cala lillies and those red-burst strawberries.

dsc08332dsc08775dsc08749dsc08722dsc08342

Whether you’re a city-dweller or otherwise, I strongly recommend you import some plants into your life – even if it’s only a window box hanging out of the window. The introduction of plants always creates a new geometric mix into any design scheme, bringing curves and floral bursts into often boring square buildings, which are enhanced further as day turns into night, and interesting plant-shaped shadows dance across the surfaces of your home. Whats more, as a plant grows and changes with the seasons, your home too will adapt to the altering cycle of the year, and as the plants rise and fall, you will find a great sense of achievement in tracking their story and progress in your home (just remember to water them, occasionally!)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Post 1000 | Celebrating a Daily Norm milestone!

Who would have known, when I wrote my first ever post on The Daily Norm on 14 November 2011, that some 7 years later I would reach the massive milestone of my 1000th article. When I think how much I must have shared with Daily Norm readers in that time, and how many hours I have whiled away sharing my musings and inspirations with the world, I almost can’t believe I could have written so much. And yet for me, this is a moment of utmost pride. Because writing a blog does take time and real effort. But The Daily Norm quite simply changed the way I saw the world and the way in which I prioritised my life: For when you know you are going to share slices of your life with the world wide web, you make more of an effort to live life to the full.

Now, when I look back at my statistics, I find it eye-watering to see that over three-quarters of a million people have looked at my blog and shared in my life’s adventure. That’s practically a country! I am honoured to have well over 5,000 subscribed followers who continue to put up with my waffle and indulge me in sharing my aesthetic vision of life. Thank you everyone, truly. You have given me a reason to paint, to draw, to take photos on holiday and generally have pride in my existence.

So how can one celebrate this great feat in Daily Norm history? Well, asides from bubbles, and plenty of them, no celebration of this nature would be the same without the protagonist of this blog, the little cute, one-armed white blob whose existence prompted the name and the nature of this creative platform: my Norm. And here, in the latest of my Norm sketches, we can see the Norms going about their own appropriate celebration of this four-figured, triple-zero achievement. Let’s just hope these poor little blobs don’t get squashed by the somewhat tenuous erection of that last mighty “0”.

Daily Norm 1000

The Daily Norm celebrates 1000 posts (©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, 2018, pen and ink on paper)

But that’s not all. This week, The Daily Norm will be very much daily again (sorry, that’s become something of a rarity of late) as my 1000th post spills over into 1001, 1002 and so on and so forth, with a look back at the most popular ever post, and the most popular Norm painting, as well as some new content and my favourite Norm sketches ever.

All that remains is to thank you all once again for supporting The Daily Norm. A newspaper is nothing without its audience and the same goes for this blog. Who knows if I will make it to 2000 posts, but one thing is certain, The Daily Norm isn’t going anywhere. So long as there’s a Norm, a painting or a beautiful landscape to be seen and shared, I will be blogging.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Florence, Land of the Medici (Part 1): The Loggia dei Lanzi

I was in Florence in my imaginings, long before I set foot there on the eve of Christmas Eve. In the weeks preceding our trip, I had been variously transported to the great city of the Renaissance by Mary Hollingsworth, whose new revealing narrative of the Medici family enchanted me before I even turned to the first page. Charting the multiple highs and lows of a family who came to dominate the city of Florence and shape the very fabric of the city to their taste and fancy, the book reminded me that love them or hate them, without the Medici, Florence would never have become the gem which catapulted it to international fame and admiration.

So when I returned to Florence for Christmas, my first visit in over six years, I did so with a mind filled to the brim with tales of the Cosimos and the Lorenzos, of the audacious Grand Dukes and their self-made apotheosis. And in such a state, I could not help but notice their stamp wherever I turned in the city. Barely a metre would pass without their family crest of the 6 balls appearing like an apparition on every stone and surface of Florence. And in striving to fill my trip with some of the city’s greatest masterpieces of art, I was of course undertaking an inadvertent journey along the road of great Medici patronage which, most will agree, underpinned the birth of the Renaissance and promoted artistic excellence to new heights.

DSC08535DSC08576DSC08588DSC08564DSC08604IMG_5735DSC08597

No place quite smacks of Medici prowess as the Piazza della Signoria where our trip began. Not only does it play host to the Palazzo Vecchio, once Medici palace and seat of the Florentine government with its sturdy fortress-like walls ensuring all knew of the powerhouse within; it also contains some of the finest works of sculpture ever commissioned during the thriving Florentine Renaissance. Yes, there’s a copy of Michelangelo’s ravishing David (more about him another day), and a rather magnificent bronze statue of Cosimo I, mounted on a horse, but the very best works are contained within the Loggia del Lanzi, the great gallery of public proclamation and official ceremonies. Named after the Lansquenets guards posted there by Cosimo I de’ Medici, today it contains some of the most recognisable masterpieces of the Medici patronage (as well as a good number of ancient treasures collected by the family in Rome).

DSC08591DSC08609DSC08563DSC08544DSC08583DSC08571DSC08543

You can spend a fortune on buying entry tickets for Florence’s many art museums, and a even greater amount of time in queuing, but spend an hour in the Loggia del Lanzi, and you will feast upon true treasure of art history and all for free. Thus we passed a wonderfully calm morning on Christmas Day, drinking in the drama, the emotion and the sheer artistic skill of these incredible works; of Pio Fedi’s ravishing but deeply traumatic Rape of Polyxena, and the equally dramatic, soaring masterpiece of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women; gazing at the sheer muscle and brawn of Hercules and the Centaur, and admiring the dexterity of antiquity as we enjoyed an equal number of early Roman lions and graceful Trajan women.

DSC08560DSC08558DSC08568DSC08553DSC08534DSC08552DSC08570

Firenze is a city with much to offer. You could spend your time focusing on its famous gelaterias, its bustling leather markets or ambling from one glittering church to another. But one thing which you cannot fail to miss is the influence of the Medici. In many ways, their output will provide the visitor with the most enchanting treat of them all.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

2017: My Year in Photos

There is no doubt that my favourite post of every year is this one: the moment when, in looking back over a year of photos, I am able to consolidate the last 365 days and review an overarching visual picture of the year. There’s nothing quite so fulfilling as the recognition of a year well spent, and looking back over this year’s photos, I am able to confidently conclude that 2017 has been an extraordinary year.

It was extraordinary for many reasons, not least for the variety not only of our holidays, but of our lifestyle changes too. At the beginning of the year, we were living in Mallorca and I was working in Marketing. By the end, I am once again a hardened (but wiser) Londoner, but with an altogether more exciting role in commercial law. It was consequently a year of big changes, and not least in our home, where a total redecoration accompanied our return to the big smoke, and Farrow & Ball calke green became the indubitable shade of the season.

DSC02037DSC01093DSC00186DSC06871DSC03129DSC07574DSC01403

But if I was to remember 2017 for one thing, it would be for the breadth and diversity of our travels. 2017 saw us setting foot on African soil for the first time, and the cultural shift which resulted just a few hundred miles south of Spain is an experience which will stay with me forever. But similarly variable were the sun-baked lands of Sicily whose Eastern shores we explored in June. Whether it be the explosive volcanic soils surrounding Etna or the proliferation of baroque architecture peppering the ancient towns, Sicily was a true hot bed of unique creative and natural passions. Then there were the lush vineyards of Tuscany, the ochre glow of Aix, aperol spritz in Siena, the great stags of Windsor…

DSC07348DSC09245DSC00372DSC07274DSC07342DSC05224DSC03544DSC01643

So scan your eyes over the photos above and below and bask in a glorious plethora of multicoloured captures – clear evidence of a year which punched above its weight in scintillating sites and alluring appeal. It was a year of great holidays, but also of staycations too – a warm and balmy English summer provided us with the perfect excuse to explore the leafy gardens of South West London and enjoy the very visible changes of the English seasons, from floral Spring in Battersea Park to an auburn Autumn on Clapham Common.

Now the seasonal chapter is shifting once again. Christmas is over and the days of wintery cold have just begun. But just as I reflect with relish upon this last year in its final fading hours, I look forward with anticipation to the year soon to come. New sights, news sensations, and another cycle of seasonal variations has started all over again.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.