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Posts tagged ‘Tree’

My Granada Sketchbook: La Plaza Bib-Rambla

I’ve lost count of quite how many pages my leather-bound moleskin sketchbook has. What I do know is that it has been my trusty travel companion for over 2 years now, from the first tentative sketches in Dubrovnik in May 2014, through to Capri, Marbella, Mallorca, Venice, Vienna and of course Granada to name but a few. And finally, with its corners now thoroughly battered and its pages filled, I have reached the last page of the sketchbook, and drawn my last sketch.

Between you and me, my last page was actually the rooftops of the Albayzín which I shared on The Daily Norm last week. It was an appropriate last sketch, since with its terracotta tiled rooftops it very closely resembled the first sketch I made in Croatia, albeit that there has been a clear improvement in my technique (practice makes perfect). But today’s sketch, while  being the first I undertook in Granada, is the last I have to share from my sketchbook of plenty.

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Tree in the Plaza Bib-Rambla, Granada (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The scene was set for this sketch in the beautiful Plaza Bib-Rambla, a tranquil leafy square a stone’s throw from Granada’s imposing cathedral, and a real centre point for restaurants and cafes, and a place merely to relax surrounded by flowerbeds full of roses. When I sat down to make the sketch, my initial strokes made to shape the image of the rather unusual fountain, complete with ogres holding up the main basin of water, which sits at the centre of the square. But within seconds of starting, my attention was captured by this beautifully bumpy looking tree standing by a kiosk near the cafe where we were enjoying afternoon tea. So I quickly changed tack and the result was this far less clichéd, much more atmospheric sketch.

And with that, my sketchbook is at an end, a true testament to my travels and my enjoyment of capturing those experiences on paper. It will not be my last sketch however, of that I am sure. Once a new sketchbook is purchased, the journey will continue…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Merry Christmas from The Daily Norm

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, as I look out of my window onto palm trees swaying in a gentle sunny breeze, that Christmas is upon us. Yet come nightfall, when the temperatures drop and that very same palm tree becomes emboldened with the thousands of fairy lights which have been wrapped around its trunk in celebration of the season, I know that this very special season has arrived. Mulled wine – that exquisite perfume of sweet cinnamon, citrus and rich red wine – ginger spices, old cloister carols and the flickering flames of candles fill my home now, and all around me it is truly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

The Tree at San Miguel (2015, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

The Tree at San Miguel (2015, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

But amongst the wrapping and the carols, the alcoholic indulgence and the preparations for the visit of Old Saint Nick, let me not forget all of you, my amazing Daily Norm readers, who have made blogging such a pleasure this year. I’m wishing you all the very happiest of Christmases, and a wonderful, prosperous and very exciting New Year. And as my parting Christmas gift, I hope you enjoy this last of my gouaches of the year – the incredible Christmas Tree (one of my own in fact!) at Cappuccino San Miguel, here in Palma de Mallorca.

Merry Christmas everyone! ¡Feliz Navidad!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. 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. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Reinventing the Ribbon: My Christmas Trees, 2015

As a largely self-appointed Christmas tree expert (although to be fair, I was the official House of Fraser Christmas decoration expert in 2014 don’t you know…) the festive season is always a busy time for me, and that is just with the four trees that spring up lovingly in my house. But this year, I had the charge of some additional 18 trees for my employment, as well as my parents’ tree back in the UK, bringing this year’s efforts to a grand total of 23 trees. That’s a lot of baubles, lights, prickly branches and this year’s addition – ribbon – to contend with. Is it any wonder the Daily Norm has been so quiet of late? But finally I am in a position to share some of the fruits of my labours with you, my dear readers.

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Rather than focus on each tree in detail, I have instead decided to bombard you with a post full of photographs showing decorative detail. The trees featured largely comprise those in my own new Mallorca home, all four decorated in a unique and individual scheme of their own. But also featuring are a few of the trees I put up for my employer. Across the board, and as I have already mentioned, the newcomer of the season has been ribbon.

I was always a big fan of tinsel, despite its reputation as protagonist of the 80s, to such an extent that some would almost declare its adornment today to be “vintage”. However, my mantra has always been that anything is better than the draped strings of beads of the 90s, and for this reason, tinsel, which glitters and sparkles from every angle has always been a feature of my trees. But tinsel is scarcer out here in the Mediterranean, and when a chance visit to a local florist saw me rummaging in big box of multi-coloured ribbons like a child on Christmas morning, I was hooked. For the way it can crumple and crease, wave and undulate, hang in loops and in haphazard formulations across a tree, I was a tinsel-man transformed. And now all of my trees feature this truly versatile construct, in every colour and texture. For me the result is a level of elegance which my trees have not reached before and which, when coupled with branches fully loaded with baubles both monochromatic and patterned, round and cutely shaped, produces a truly festive display, both at work, and at home.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 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.    

The Largest Tree in Palma de Mallorca

Despite the inherent disruptions entailed by a house move such as ours, it brings with it its new routines, and I love nothing more than the excitement of getting used to a new way of life. And for us, our new area brings an exposure to Palma’s best cafe culture, views of its beautiful leafy river, and a new daily walk to work which takes me through some of the old town’s most charming streets and across its beautiful tree-lined avenues.

But for me, the most beautiful feature of my daily commute is my route past what must be the largest tree in all of Palma de Mallorca. Sitting in the walled gardens alongside the magnificent building of the Consell of Mallorca, this tree is beyond human or even natural dimensions. Its trunk must be at least 4 metres in diameter, and its sprawling roots could themselves be benches facilitating a cosy spot in the shade. Meanwhile its vast branches create a leafy canopy which must be over 100 metres across, and thus it fills the entirety of the square it rests in.

Its those beautiful branches which take centre stage in this photographic post – a true natural gem in the heart of urbanised Palma.

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Christmas comes to Palma: Part 2 – Home decor

With the streets of Palma de Mallorca awash with the sparkle of Christmas, my decorations were never going to be far behind. It’s been a bizarre state of affairs – we only moved to Mallorca 3 weeks ago (although it feels like longer) and have been unpacked for barely 2 weeks, and yet now it is time to change the decor again in order to welcome Christmas through the door. And much are the decorations needed, for with the sun still beating down upon us, it certainly doesn’t feel all that Christmassy otherwise.

Regulars of The Daily Norm will know that I love my Christmas decorations, and that each year they become perhaps more extravagant in their scale and abundance. And being unwilling to lose any of my precious Christmas cargo, I faced the somewhat Herculean task of getting all of my decorations from London to Mallorca in one piece. But transport the load I did, and with some 1,000 glass baubles amongst our collection of decor, I think the angels must have graced our move for there was not a single bauble broken when we unpacked the other end – that is at least until I started decorating  and the inevitable breakage or two commenced!

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But with the decorations unloaded into the now bigger space of what is our Palma apartment, we have been able to go to town with our decor, even adding a tree ontop of last year’s scheme. I give you the new golden glamour tree! Abundant in its effusion of elegant embellishments, this tree is a homage to all things golden and gorgeous, and the gold offsets to spectacular effect atop a black tinsel tree, and with flashing warm white lights making each golden decoration sparkle.

Golden Glamour

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But what of the others? Well as with last year, our favourite Venetian-inspired Eiffel-themed sparkling red and silver scheme makes its return, looking wonderful in this new Mallorcan setting, where the higher ceilings of the 19th century apartment block add extra glamour to this sparkling spectacle.

Venetian-Eiffel Splendour

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I’ve also reintroduced the citrus theme of a previous tree, but hung yellow and orange baubles amongst cerulean blue on a tree of white. This modern and fresh Christmas look works wonderfully amongst the paintings and easels of what is my new Mallorcan art studio, reflecting the vibrancy of colours which bounce off my artwork.

Mediterranean Christmas

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My grand red and green hallway tree has also made its way over to Mallorca, although the tree which previously needed to be bent at the top in order to squeeze it into my London apartment looks practically dwarfish in this new space.

Traditional Abundance

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And finally the bedroom scheme, which this year takes on a much fresher blue and white theme to match the blues of our new moroccan inspired space. Stripped of all tinsel and garlands, this is a much simpler look which nevertheless remains full and abundant because of the sheer number of baubles, and a balanced hang throughout. It was something of a struggle to buy a real tree out here in the Med, but we found this 7ft beauty in a side street florist, and since it comes complete with roots and a pot, we’re hoping that it won’t become crunchy and dry within days of being installed.

Scandinavian Arabia

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And of course throughout the flat there are the accessories, the smaller trees, the little scandinavian santas and the sultry comforting sound of Doris Day singing Christmas standards better than anyone before or since. All that remains is the Christmas food and the mulled wine. But it surely won’t be long in coming.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

The Daily Norm Photo of the Week: Corked Ladybird

Some animals in this world are so perfectly beautiful that one can only assume that an artist was at play that week that the world was created. Stripy zebras, haphazardly spotted dalmatians, elegantly aesthetic peacocks, rich blood orange butterflies and multicoloured parrots – all bear the hallmark of the creative touch; a natural beauty worthy of the Paris catwalks rather than an African pasture or worse, a cage.

Symmetrical beauty, coupled with rich contrasting colours are two things that nature does best, no more so than in the ladybird, surely the most beautiful insect of the lot. For in its black and red spotted back, the ladybird recalls both the joyful dance of a flamenco polka, while exuding the contemporary style of a fine sports car or high gloss handbag. It is this innate beauty, and the feeling that these creatures somehow represent luckyness, that I have always been attracted to ladybirds, finding that their appearance somehow enhances my life, no matter how short the duration of our encounter.

Photo of week

One such discovery is captured on my Daily Norm photo of the week today, an instance which occurred in the Chelsea Physic garden upon the spongey bark of an old cork tree. The resulting photo is a fusion not just of the spotted retro ladybird, but also of the rippling irregular forms of the cork around it. Another wonder of nature, and one that is growing rarer by the day. Surely it’s worth settling for a screw cap wine bottle when this beautiful tree is saved as a result?

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 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.

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.4: Traditional Glamour

It’s appropriate, I think, that the last of my four Christmas trees to be featured on The Daily Norm should be the most traditional and glamourous of the lot. For in these final days before the great day of Christmas itself, what better way is there to reflect on the abundant design bounty of the season than to revel in decorations which are, in their traditional character, a real nod to the lavish spectacle which sits at the centre of this season of plenty.

Yes, my final tree is the tallest of the lot – at just over 7 ft it almost touches the ceiling of my modern flat, and leaves no space for a fairy to sit atop. But asides from this notable absence, the tree is in every way a homage to the traditional colours and exuberance of Christmas, while retaining a sleek and at times eccentric twist. The design of this tree is very much dictated by its location. Set within my hallway, it has to be narrow enough that it does not become un-passable in the fairly tight space of my hall. But it also has to be big enough and abundant enough that it impresses upon a guest’s arrival – after all, it is the first sight which will grace visitors to my home in this merry season.

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Meanwhile, the design of my hall also leans towards the traditional, with its broad book shelves, floor to ceiling art work and framed old adverts, and various paraphernalia which would suit the most traditional of studies – an antique typewriter, a leather arm chair, a barrister’s wig and so on. So in attempting to fill my space with Christmas cheer which fits seamlessly within the scheme of my hallway, I have not only gone for the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold (which also feature in the surrounding artwork); I have also matched up the library theme with the addition of some very quirky little decorations such as gold stags heads, armchairs and even this year’s magnificent addition – baubles shaped to look like a framed Da Vinci (thanks Liberty’s!). These slightly more unusual features are then filled in with plain sparkly baubles in shades of rich forest green and perfect berry red, while the whole tree comes alive with glittering gold baubles and tinsel.

Despite being a tall narrow tree, this vertical pillar of festive abundance is probably my favourite of the lot, because in being almost overloaded with bauble after bauble of glittering glass spectacle, it is as over the top, as plentiful and as generous as the season it is dressed up to celebrate. Happy Christmas everybody!

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 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. 

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.2: Citrus Sunshine

Designed to complement the sunny orange shades of my office which is appropriately named “The Orange Office”, this week’s Daily Norm Christmas Tree of the Week is a burst of citrus sunshine bringing with it all of the essence of a sunny mediterranean shore in the midsts of an otherwise wintery Christmas season.

With its vivid yellow and orange baubles, this christmas tree scheme sits well within a season whose cuisine is alive with spiced citrus scents, but loses none of the vibrancy and freshness of a summer’s day. That nod to the summer is referenced in the hints of cerulean blue, reminding of a clear summer’s sky and the vast blue waters of the mediterranean sea, but the orange and yellow sparkling glittery reindeers nod back to Christmas again, in an evocation which is the height of festive kitsch. The playfulness introduced by my reindeer is accompanied by the jovial multi-coloured forms of metalic robots, only to be offset by the rich regality of purple flashes, which reflect the wealth and abundance of the Christmas season. And all this is tied together upon the branches of a contemporary black tree, sparkling under two sets of yellow flashing fairy lights, and balanced out by ample strings of glittery yellow tinsel.

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My “citrus sunshine” tree is a perfect example of how both playfulness and modernity can be achieved within the traditional Christmas season, lending a contemporary air and so blending perfectly with the sleek surroundings of an office environment. Of course such a traditional set up will not be suitable for every setting, in the same way that a traditional fir tree may look out of place in a modern flat. But the best thing about Christmas is its ability to adapt its joy-giving decor to all environments, ensuring that wherever you go or live, Christmas need never be absent.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 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. 

On the First day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…

…a partridge in a Norm-pear tree.

We’re into December and Christmas is but weeks away. Hard to believe really that it’s come around so quickly, but now that my decorations are up, it’s time to get the Norms into gear as well.

This year, as part of the Norms’ celebration of Christmas, the Norms have decided to recount one of their favourite Christmas carols: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in illustrated form. Now before you say anything, I know that the 12 days of Christmas don’t start until after Christmas day itself, but let’s face facts here, no one is really interested in Christmas much after the Downton Abbey Christmas special has aired at around 10pm on the 25th. So it’s only appropriate that the Norms’ recollection of this much-loved carol is celebrated now, on these heady days leading up to Christmas.

So, as the familiar carol goes, on the 12 days of Christmas, Normy gave his lover a gift each day, the gift becoming more and more extravagant as the days went on.

A partridge in a Norm-pear tree (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

A partridge in a Norm-pear tree (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

“On the first day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me, a partridge in a Norm-pear tree”.

Now this may be the first gift of many, but do not underestimate its value: the Norm-pear tree is a rare and interesting phenomenon, rarely seen by us humans. While scientists looking into the complex genealogy of the Norm species have yet to understand the true process by which a Norm is born, it is widely considered that Norms, who are by nature intrinsically pear-shaped, are actually born from the Norm-pear tree. Starting as flowers with a fragrance as sweet as honeyed nectar, and a colour the shade of azure-tinted white, the Norm-pears take several months to develop from a small round blob into the perfect curvaceous Norm-shape we love and know. In the final stages of gestation, the Norm develops his characteristic one arm and his wide eyes open to the light of day. At this point it is thought that the Norm will fall to the ground, leaving his leaves and stalk behind on the tree, and will, owing to his gelatinous form, bounce a little until coming to a stop. And so the Norm life begins.

So that’s the theory, and you will, no doubt, understand now what a precious gift Normy has given his lover on the first day of Christmas. The fact that there is a pesky partridge sitting inside it is by-the-by.

What will Normy give his lover on the second day of Christmas?

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. 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. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.