Brushstroke art

We love watercolor, but not as much when it's too proper and perfect.  We prefer a modern spin when simple brushstrokes speak volumes, and do so casually and elegantly.  A perfect example of this is the Brushstroke Women series painted by Aurore de la Morinerie.  Simple, but still so much attitude and style in each of them.  She makes it look so easy!

Playful, Pop Fashion Sketches

You may recall from this post that we are big Instagram fans. A new to us discovery is Donald Robertson, the astoundingly prolific Creative Director for Special Projects at Estée Lauder. Each morning, Robertson takes pen to paper (or tape or milk cartons...) and produces lively pop art pieces that engage with the fashion world. We love his bright paintings and whimsical take on life with the beautiful people. 

Here's a great interview and peek into his Westchester home.

Our Favorite Frenchie at the NY Historical Society

Yesterday we took a trip to the New York Historical Society to see Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans. It was marvelous!

The exhibition tells the story of Bemelmans' fascinating career and life in New York City during the early and mid twentieth century. Each gallery of the small show is filled with playful drawings, paintings, and a few special artifacts. There are funny, illustrated stories about his escapades at the Ritz Hotel and sweet letters from famous friends. We especially loved his old painting kit, complete with vibrant watercolor pallets and a jumble of brushes and pallet knives.

The show runs through October 19 and we'd highly recommend a visit.

image via Viking Press

Natural Beauty

evanhealy.jpg

We're big believers in natural beauty and love learning about new products. One of our recent discoveries (thanks to Into the Gloss) is Evan Healy and her eponymous line of holistic and naturopathic skincare. 

We love the luxurious oils and mists made from ingredients cultivated on small, organic farms. For us, it started with a sandalwood hydrosol, the distilled co-product of essential oil. Spritzing on the smoky floral water revived our spirits and complexions during the sticky New York summer. Now that the weather is cooling down, we're partial to her silky serums and moisturizers.

A few favorites, culled from our own beauty cabinets: Tea Tree Gel Cleaner, Rose Geranium Hydrosol, Sandalwood Hydrosol, Neem Immortelle Purifying Infusion

Seasonal change at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

New York is just starting to transition into autumn -- crisp mornings, apples in the farmer's market, and slightly shorter days. So last week we took a field trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to catch a last glimpse of summer. 

We spent the afternoon strolling around and noticed a beautiful variety of reds, rusts, and purples dotting the landscape. Lucky for us, there were still some heady roses in full bloom and we sniffed our way from bush to bush. It was a revitalizing trip and has us looking forward to ushering in a new season. 

Gorgeous Travel pics from Tiny Atlas Quarterly

When we're designing away in the studio, it's fun to take a few minutes for a dreamy desk vacation. Our recent trick is browsing the stream of exotic locales on the Tiny Atlas Quarterly instagram. Globetrotting instagrammers tag their snaps with #mytinyatlas and TAQ regrams their favorites.

Aren't the images incredible? We love the variety and discovering new photographers. 

clockwise from top left: @oliviathebaut outside Marseille, France; @charlottelavinia in Kenya; @nadinbrendel in Copenhagen at Sp34; @joelbennetts in Bondi Beach, Sydney; @lulamae_yleny in Sicily; @saysthefox in La Jolla, CA

Sea cyanotypes from the NYPL archive

seacyanotype

One of our favorite sources of inspiration is the New York Public Library archives. They have an incredible digital anthology of hundreds of thousands of images from the library's collection. 

We've recently been mooning over these beautiful prints from Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. The book was published in the mid 1800's when seaweed collecting was all the rage. Aren't the watery blues and delicate shapes amazing?

Here's a fascinating article, if you'd like to read more. 

A New Favorite Podcast: After the Jump

You may recall from this post that we love a good podcast. Lately we've been enjoying After the Jump, the radio program of Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney. Every Wednesday, she interviews guests from the creative community about design, business, and personal growth. We love her candor and good humor and always learn something interesting. A few favorite episodes: Russ and Daughters Brand UpdateHandmade Design, and Inspiration

image via Design*Sponge

Paper Flowers Craft Day

A few weeks ago, we had an office craft day and made paper flowers (you may have noticed a sneak peek on our facebook). Don't they look dreamy? 

We took inspiration from Paper to Petal and The House that Lars Built and then let our imaginations take over. Once we got into a rhythm, it was surprisingly simple to make a bunch of blooms. We're already dreaming up new techniques and a big TTH style bouquet!

A visit to the Met

We recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Gary Winogrand retrospective.

Winogrand was an iconic American photographer and one of the most prolific artists in history. His subject matter was American life, particularly documenting the shifting cultural and political climate of the 1960's and 70's. His images are brimming with life, humor, and a sense of investigation -- he called himself "a student of America." 

An obsessive artist, Winogand would shoot hundreds of pictures each day and at his untimely death left behind a whopping 6,600 unreviewed rolls of film! The show features an array of previously unpublished images and some personal artifacts. If you're in town, we highly recommend a visit.

image via the Met

the New Yorker à la Paris

Kirby was recently in Paris and brought back the most charming souvenir -- a pair of La Parisianer prints.

Le Parisianer is a fictitious twist on the New Yorker. Last year, graphic designers Aurélie Pollet and Michael Prigent invited 100 artists to each create a cover for the imaginary magazine. The result is a keen, playful, romantic take on life in contemporary Paris.

The collection debuted at the Galerie de la Cité Internationale des Art in December and sold out within hours! Lucky for us, they complied the images into a book and released a set of art prints. 

images via La Boite Verta

An Unconventional Atelier

Kirby is in Paris this week, which has the rest of us thinking of France. We found this little series of videos about Petite H, the dreamy workshop of Pascale Mussard (great-great-great-granddaughter of founder Thierry Hermès). Pascal rescues imperfect and prototype pieces from the Hermès factory and turns them into whimsical, one of a kind curiosities. Aren't they delightful? We love seeing such an established fashion house think creatively about reducing waste.

(found via Agnes Baddoo)

Tea Time

Rose Green tea and gooseberries for an afternoon snack

Rose Green tea and gooseberries for an afternoon snack

New York is starting to get steamy, which means that our refreshing beverage search has begun in full force! Kirby's neighbor, a Tokyo native, clued her into the wonderful unsweetened teas from Ito En.

Ito En is the most popular brand of iced tea in Japan. We've noticed them under the name Tea's Tea in our local bodega. The entire range of flavors is delightful, but our current favorites are Rose Green and Green Jasmine. Perfect for a stimulating afternoon sip!

What are some of your favorite ways to stay cool?

Drawing the line

ben butler

A new artist on our radar is Ben Butler.  He creates complex, beautiful images using hundreds of finely drawn lines. We like how elemental the drawings are, each constructed with the simple building block of a thin line. New lines are added, converge and build into an organic mass. At times these masses resemble a cloud, a net, a topographic map, or maybe a thought.

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The images feel orderly and random at the same time. Some remind us of an undulating sea, calm but brimming with potential energy. Take a look through his website to see more.

images via Ben Butler

Black Magic

During Staycation week, Kirby picked up a package of activated charcoal from the shop at the Noguchi Museum. Since then, our interest has been piqued about this incredible natural purifier.

People have known about the detoxifying properties of charcoal for thousands of years. Ancient Hindus used it to purify their drinking water and Egyptians found a variety of medical uses.

Modern activated charcoal is carbon that has been heated to super high temperatures, creating thousands of tiny internal pores. These crevices trap undesirable odors, dyes, oils, metals, and chemicals. If you have a water purifier, you’re probably already familiar with how much better tap water tastes after a run through the filter. 

Activated carbon can also be incorporated into your beauty routine. Charcoal masks sop up excess oil and leave you with a fresh, glowing complexion. Recently, we’ve been eying the carbon infused scrub towels and toothbrushes from the fabulous Japanese shop, Rikumo. Links to a few favorites below.

1. Cube Air Purifier 2. Cleansing Mask 3. Body Scrub Towel 4. Facial Soap 5. Charcoal Toothbrush 6. Loose Charcoal

 

 

Wax Poetic

We were recently introduced to the beautiful work of Betsy Eby and were lucky enough to see a couple of pieces during a visit to Winston Wachter gallery. 

Inspired by antiquity funerary portraits and traditional Japanese landscapes, Eby creates meditative field paintings using tinted beeswax. This method of painting, known as encaustic, involves a heated concoction of natural wax and dammar resin. The viscous mix is melted and mixed with pigment, and then applied to the canvas using brushes and various palette knives. Layers of wax are built up on the surface until the composition is just right. Then Eby uses a blowtorch to smooth and set the painting. (This video shows her in action -- pretty amazing!)

Her works are abstract but look a bit like hazy florals. The surfaces are smooth and shinny, like sheets of ice on a frozen lake. She says that she's drawn to marble, parchment, and alabaster, which makes perfect sense when you see her milky paintings.

The works are dazzling in person -- definitely worth a visit to the gallery if you have the opportunity!

All photos from Betsy Eby

Simplicity in Spain

We're charmed by the pretty wares at Spanish shop Lua Nord. They are focused on simple home pieces made from natural materials. Lots of warm woods, creamy white porcelain, and stone colored linens. Even their motto, "enjoy the little things," is Petite Alma approved!

A few of our favorites...

a geometric wooden candle holder 

wood and acrylic glass necklace to wear with a simple tee

puff classic for lounging in a sunny spot

triangle decals to jazz up our studio walls

a minimalist bulb table lamp

the teeny tiny origami brooch

 

A Fine Line

On the third floor of a charming old building on Soho’s Greene Street you’ll find one of New York’s most interesting new shops. Somewhere between a showroom and a gallery, The Apartment is the physical incarnation of e-commerce retailer, The Line. Founded by two stylists, Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn, the Line belongs to a new breed of luxury purveyors. Classic shapes, high quality materials and a totally modern point of view define the collection, which is presented in the light filled loft on Greene.

The Apartment is just that – an expertly edited collection of goods (from fashion, beauty, home and art) presented in situ. Every single item – from the Reed Krakoff blouse to the toothpaste – is for sale. A fun shopping experience for sure, but the real genius of the Apartment is that it creates meaning through association. The elegant stitching on a jacket becomes all of the more impressive when displayed next to a hand hewn wooden table.

Traina and Wendelborn define their vision as “the search for refined, versatile, and honest goods.” We can’t wait to see what they find next!

Staycation week - Noguchi Museum

Many of the gals in our studio have April birthdays, so a celebratory lunch was clearly in order. We met up a the Queens Kickshaw on the recommendation of Alice Gao and her brilliant blog. The space was long and cozy, with simple food (specializing in unique grilled cheese combos) and a relaxed atmosphere . 

After lunch, we took a brief stroll in the sun to the museum of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Famous for his Akari Light Sculptures and collaborations with furniture company Henry Miller, Noguchi was a high modernist with a broad body of work.

The collection featured many of his stone pieces: organic forms with contrasting smooth and rough textures or alternating segments colored rock fit seamlessly together. Some had hand hewn bases topped with geometrically carved stones. Fluid and lyrical, Noguchi's work adorned sets for Martha Graham's dance company and the homes of many design enthusiasts. Our own designer hearts were fluttering! 

The museum, which Noguchi constructed in the mid 1980s, is a serene and contemplative space. The combination of indoor and outdoor areas, including a small garden, made it the perfect spot to get inspired on a warm spring day! 

Staycation Week - Cupping at Toby's Estate

Last week was Staycation week at Petite Alma! In the sprit of spring, we are got out of the office and explored interesting spots around town.

One morning we headed to Toby's Estate in Williamsburg to learn the basics of coffee cupping. Similar to a wine tasting, a cupping is a way to compare varieties of coffee. We sniffed and slurped our way through four different samples, picking out hints of lemon, chocolate and wet leaves. Our friendly instructor, Mike, gave us the skinny on espresso drinks and answered our home brew questions. 

After the cupping, we lounged in Toby's bright, cozy space and enjoyed soy cortados and single origin pour overs. 

Next up, the Noguchi Museum.

image via Brooklyn Magazine

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A New York design studio celebrating simplicity and the little things that count.