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Art and Design...

Asian arts

Images of Japan's Momoyama Period (16th century): 
Pair of sliding doors (now converted to folding screens)
at the Kyoto National Museum.
Dobuko coat with tsujigahana tie dying at the Kyoto National Museum.
Pair of hanging scrolls
at the Kyoto National Museum.
Oribe and the Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan (this was a special exhibition through 11 Jan 2004), from NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Shoin Room at The Asian Art Department, NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Asian Art Department at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art

John Singer Sargent

Sargent at the Tate Gallery.
Sargent at Harvard University.
Sargent at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art (this was a special exhibition through 24 September, 2000).  The Met has the famous "Portrait of Madame X" in its permanent collection, amongst other Sargent oil portraits.

Urban textures

Country colors and space

Michaelangelo's colors

Image of the Sistine Chapel, including the recently cleaned ceiling frescos, from the Hanover College web site.

Paul Klee

The Paul Klee Center (Zentrum Paul Klee) in Bern, Switzerland
Selected Klee works at the Guggenheim Museum's NYC facility.

Literature...

Rahul Pandita

Rahul Pandita is a print and broadcast journalist whose life was defined by the 1993 Hindu exodus from Kashmir.  He was thirteen at the time.  Read his work at SanitySucks.blogspot.com.

Music...

Songs of My Life

For a couple of years, I've kept a songs blog with some of my favorite song lyrics. Whereever possible, I've linked to a performance or video on YouTube.

Many of the songs are in Hindi. When a good translation was available, I've provided a link to it.

The blog is called Songs of my Life.

Sting

Sting is the only living pop musician of whom I've been an active fan.  Besides his great songwriting and arranging talent, he's got a beautiful voice, which has gotten more expressive and textured over the years.  His lyrics show an intelligent understanding of people across class lines; he sees the humor and drama of peoples' lives. His comprehension of human life, the eclectic explorations that form the "plotlines" of his lyrics, and his wit make me think of him as a latter-day Shakespeare.  But my first hook into Sting's stuff was my reaction to the excitement and strength of his bass lines and rhythmic experiments.

Sting website history: There've been three great Sting web sites, the first two of which (both now defunct) were created and maintained by fans for fans.  "Fields of Gold" was designed and run by Martin Nickel in the days of Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales" album; the site was taken down when Martin's university servers got too much traffic during the tour.  "Stingchronicity" was designed and run by Dave and Wendy Dunn, after Martin's was taken down.  Stingchronicity was deactivated shortly after the official Sting site went live.  Both sites were very well designed, reflected and supported a fan's POV, and were rich with resources like photos, lyrics and tour news.  Sting's official web site now seems to embody that POV, too. It's well-designed and has great, up-to-date (and accurate) content, perhaps because Dave and Wendy Dunn are involved with managing the fans' area of the site now.

Miles Davis, John Coltrane

I discovered Miles Davis in his "Kind of Blue" days.  The voice of his horn, and its wit and intelligence, infused years of my life.  John Coltrane's influence was deeper, and almost sacred..."A Love Supreme" (a theme that ran through the first great personal love of my life), Coltrane's work with Johnny Hartmann...his music will hold its validity eternally.  If I had to retreat to some desert place for the rest of my life with only two pieces of music, my choices would be Davis's and Coltrane's Flamenco Sketches, and Coltrane's and Hartmann's Autumn Serenade.

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau's delivery of "Spain", "Morning", etc.  Lordy, what a voice, what musical intelligence!

Seal

Seal's work is full of emotional counterpoint, sung with a beautiful, powerful voice.  His new "SealIV" CD!

James Taylor

I didn't quite like JT when he was young.  I read him as slightly fey — too spoiled, too easy on himself, something like that.  As James Taylor has aged, he's taken on depth, and now I love to hear him.  There's a slight roughness from age in his voice that contrasts with his lyrical embellishments, giving them substance.  He projects a good understanding of life in his delivery.

A.R. Rahman

A composer, arranger and playback singer for the Indian film industry and beyond, A.R. Rahman grounds his work in the music of his country, especially vocal and rhythmic forms from southern India, and mines additional bits from many genres of music, to make pieces that are of the moment, yet connected to a past thousands of years old.  His work is often haunting, exhilarating, or both. 

I challenge you to stay seated and still while listening to songs like Chaiyya Chaiyya, Haiyayyo Kanasa, or Urvasi Urvasi.  If you want to be haunted for weeks by pure beauty, listen to Rahman's Yengae Yenathu Kavithai from the Tamil film Kandukonden Kandukonden — especially Chitra's glorious voice from 1 minunute 45 seconds through 2 minutes 30 seconds in the song (approximately). 

A good place to find Rahman's music on the web is Raaga.com.  Look for him in both the Hindi and Tamil sections, under Music Directors, as AR. Rehman (the correct pronunciation of his name).

Rahul Pandita: Many thanks for pointing me to Raaga.com.


Rahman is currently scoring the London musical version of Lord of the Rings.


"...Pagalile colorgal poraamal
Iruttile kannadichchenna payan
Sudhandhiram mattum illaamal
Swargane irundhum enna payan
Figurigal yarum illaamal
Vaguppugal irundhum enna payan
Iruvadhu vayadhil aadamal
Aruvadhil aadi enna payan!" — from Urvasi Urvasi (Tamil lyrics)

Luther Van Dross

Though I've listened, dreamed, exercised, danced and skated to Luther Van Dross since his Never Too Much in 1981, his work was never an influence, for me.  Recently (during a long commute) a few Luther songs hit me hard.  What they triggered was a sense of the very rich dance structure in the arrangements, complete with some partial choreographies.  Something interesting may evolve from this.

Film...

Robert Redford

Robert Redford's work in recent years has caught my attention because of the unusually pure visual scope and open pacing of some of the films he's made in this period.  Two films with these qualities in particular are: The Horse Whisperer (1998), which he also produced and directed, and An Unfinished Life (2005).  I also deeply admire Redford because of his advocacy for film arts with his Sundance Institute.

Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan is currently the best-known actor in Hindi films.  His charm, energy and humanity, as an actor and as a person, are formidable.  Besides acting, he runs a production house, Red Chillies Entertainment, and owns the Kolkata Knightriders, a IPL (Twenty/20) cricket team.  If you're not familiar with his work, here are four films for starters:

Devdas — lush, exotic and melodramatic, this film is the American viewer's most common intro to SRK's work. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and co-starring Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff and Kiron Kher.

Kal Ho Na Ho — set in New York City, lots of fun and easy to digest for Americans.  Produced by Karan Johar, directed by Nikhil Advani, and co-starring Preity Zinta, Jaya Bachchan, and Saif Ali Khan, with brief cameos from Kajol and Rani Mukherjee.

Dil Se — directed and written by Mani Ratman, with Santosh Sivan as cinematographer, and scored by A.R. Rahman (see above), the film has one of SRK's finest performances, and includes Rahman's Chaiyya Chaiyya with Farah Khan's choreography of the famous train dance. Shekhar Kapur (see below) is executive producer.  Dil Se's opening scene is one of my favorites of all time.  Dil Se co-stars Preity Zinta and Manisha Koirala.  Malaika Arora is SRK's partner in the Chaiyya Chaiyya train dance.

Swades — directed by Ashutosh Gowariker and scored by A.R. Rahman, with SRK's best acting (to date), and an excellent supporting cast that includes Gayatri Joshi, Daya Shankar Pandey, Rajesh Vivek, and Kishori Balal. 

If you respond to these films, try Paheli, Main Hoon Na, Kahbhi Khushi Khabie Gham, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Baadshah, and Veer Zaara. 

I've listed these SRK films in the order in which I think they'd appeal to Americans.

Shekhar Kapur

Shekhar Kapur started in Indian films as an actor, and moved to directing.  His Bandit Queen made a big stir, and a few years later he directed Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchette — one of the most beautfully conceived, designed, acted and directed films of all time. 

Well-known for his thoughts about the creative process, his film work expresses his philosophy through incredible visual beauty and fine performances.  Besides directing, Kapur has produced several fine films (including Dil Se, above), as well as the London and New York musical Bollywood Dreams (with a Rahman score and Farah Khan choreography).

For more about Shekhar Kapur, and to read his writings and thoughts, try his blog: ShekarKapur.com

My personal take on Shekhar Kapur's management of the creative process of making films is this:  Kapur seems to cast a netting of unfocused energy over his projects.  Others' energies are caught on the wing in the net.  As they struggle in his net, they flash all the colors of their wings, and something extraordinary comes to be on film.

Personal Notes:

Sabu Quinn, my beloved son, graduated from NYC's High School of Science, took a BA in Fine Arts/Photography from the Cooper Union, and worked at Magnum and Sipa Press (international photo agencies).  He writes screenplays, and has produced his first film, The End of the Beginning.  The current version of his web site, sabuquinn.com, is the result of his design and implementation skills.
Pastel sketch from life of Sabu Quinn (Heather Quinn copyright 2000, all rights reserved)Digital drawing from snapshot of Sabu Quinn (Heather Quinn copyright 2001, all rights reserved) Sabu Quinn, screenwriter, director, producer of The End of The Beginning


My pets have passed away.  The dogs were brothers, a mix of Lab and Siberian (from their mother Theodora), and Beagle and Black-and-Tan Hound (from their father Bob-Dog).
My dog Grey-Grey, pastel drawing from snapshot, by Heather Quinn, copyright 2000, all rights reserved. My dog Bear, charcoal drawing from life, by Heather Quinn, copyright 1999, all rights reserved.
Grey-Grey is on the left, Bear is on the right.  They were great watchdogs and loyal companions.  Here are their memorials:

Leap of Faith (for Grey-Grey)
Bear and the Art of Life and Death (for Bear)

My cat Jouet, digital painting from snapshot, by Heather Quinn, copyright 2000, all rights reserved. One cat, Jouet, was taken in from her birth home (the runt of her litter); she was very small (about six pounds), delicate, affectionate and sweet.


My cat Little-Kittie, digital painting from snapshot, by Heather Quinn, copyright 2000, all rights reserved. The other, Little-Kittie, was a feral cat who was rescued after being injured. She later went blind. This may have been a blessing for her, as after her blindness, she learned to trust like a pet, instead of being a nervous wild thing.  I think her blindness limited the inputs she had to deal with each day.  With less to worry about, she was more content and affectionate, and happier, I thought.

These are my "thinking views" at work, current location. 

My tools are my Thinkpad, wireless mouse, iPod mini, pen, Sting Broken Music Tour thermos, and my wooden box from India with miscellaneous stuff inside and my phone and glasses case on top.

We have moved near LaGuardia Airport (in the NYC borough of Queens).  My commute is really long.  When there's light, the views of the bridges between Manhattan and Queens, and layers of miles of roofs and steeples, are moving visual experiences. 

When there's no light, I work on creative projects, study, and listen to music.  These activities make the commute peaceful and productive.

The street where I work, and a tree out front, March 2006; both look very spare, quiet and Edward Hopper-ish:

The westward sky, from LaGuardia Airport, late March 2006 — spectacular coloring on the wild clouds of a northwestern front at sunset:



Who / What:

My name is Heather Quinn. Heather QuinnBased in NYC, I do programming, painting, digital graphics, and web design. I've been learning to write poetry and fiction since 2006.

WindyHillDesign.org is a showcase for personal stuff, where I share what motivates my creativity.

How:

With a background in the arts and computer programming, I started teaching myself web design in 1998.  My preference for working alone, the dot com crash of 2000, the outsourcing trend, no B.A. and intermittent techno-fatigue are why I haven't started my own design firm.

I do private web design work, and blog customization in WordPress and Blogger environments (any kind of domain). But my focus is personal. Web design skills are put to service for myself, and other artists and writers, who need to present themselves on the web.

Why:

Creativity is the lifeblood of humanity. It encompasses and expresses all the best that people can be. I fiercely support my own and others' creative impulses. Creativity is love, and love is creative.

Art and writing work together, and music and dance lubricate the creative process, for me. Read about some creative influences on the left.

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