Notes from Europe

Of Another Color. Gouache on paper 10×12.5 Brandi Malarkey, Artist.


Well, m’dears. Life has been more than unusually full and insane. The trip to Germany was so worth it, but put many a thing behind. And now we are buried under construction as we attempt to fix the foundation of our house. Doing things yourself is way less expensive, but more than a bit exhausting and prone to making “creativity” a bit more difficult.

However, despite it all, I am actually trying to get some work done, and here are two new paintings, both inspired by my European trip. Not that they in any way have a continental flare, so you’d never know it. The one I don’t much care for, actually. It did what I wanted, but I just don’t like it. The other I like very much, mostly I think because it seems to be a throwback to my adolescent days as a Lisa Frank fan. So here are both, with some brief notes from Europe to follow.  🙂

Renewed Gouache on paper 9.5×12 Brandi Malarkey, Artist.
Gouache on paper


Of Another Color. Gouache on paper 10×12.5 Brandi Malarkey, Artist.
Of Another Color
Gouache on paper

Random traveling tidbits:

  • You don’t know how well trained you are until you try to figure out someone else’s street signs. Fortunately everyone mostly ignores the street signs at similar rates abroad as they do at home.
  • It is important to pack things you will most frequently want/need at the very bottom of your suitcase, requiring yourself to all but completely unpack on a regular basis to find/use said item. It builds character.
  • When needing to ask someone for assistance, look for the people wearing earbuds and trying to pretend the other people don’t exist. They are most likely the locals.
  • Bus tours take longer than expected if you start on the wrong side of the river.
  • London bus drivers are playing a live version of Tetris on wheels with the added complication of people randomly appearing as obstacles to avoid.
  • It never occurred to me before that Buckingham palace could be gaudy.
  • Coming from a place where the lines on the road are either covered in snow or disrupted by construction, you wouldn’t think I’d be quite so astonished at the careless abandon of driving on the sidewalks.
  • I love that so many men and boys wear pink without an issue.
  • Sea gulls may not be the most informative tour guides, but they are certainly the loudest.
  • When taking the London tour, the guide pointed out what is known as “The Ladies’ Bridge”—so called because women built it during the WWII when the men were gone fighting. When he stated it was the only bridge in the city built on schedule and under budget, three-fourths of the women and one-fourth of the men looked the guide with a clear expression of “well, of course”.
  • It’s important to practice anxiety on things that have nothing whatever to do with you, so that you can work up to a proper terror of the things that do actually apply. Side note: if you remember to do the anxiety laden things first, you might get more sleep.
  • I’ve never considered “picture” signs before, but after wandering a city where I don’t speak the language, I am now a huge supporter.
  • The signs may still not prevent you from getting trapped on a train because you can’t figure out a button–thank goodness for being able to watch others do it.
  • When you think the furniture store is a gallery, and the juice bar is an Asian restaurant, proceed with abandon. No one can prove you had no idea, and a glass of juice may prove refreshing.
  • It is important to stay hydrated. Thank goodness ice cream is mostly water. It’s important to support local businesses.
  • If you can’t read the language, and chose ice cream that looks interesting, just because you still can’t identify the flavor after eating it doesn’t mean it isn’t yummy.
  • You know your friends’ senses of humor have stuck when you see guinea pigs at the zoo and immediately think “dinner”.
  • The irony of standing before the pro-immigrant sign in Germany with the horror of the Holocaust, while coming from America, where we are forcing immigrants into concentration camps, is not lost on me.
  • When you order randomly off the menu and find, to your surprise, the original Swabian version of hot dogs and Pork n’ Beans, you might be mildly disappointed when you go to the Italian restaurant and don’t end up with a version of SpaghettiOs.
  • It’s almost painful to be at lovely outdoor markets with mushrooms and artichokes and not have any art supplies. The stuffed figs, while wonderful, don’t make up for it.
  • When your Taxi driver doesn’t know where your hotel is, asks another driver, and proceeds to drive you to your hotel while shaking his head the entire time, muttering “sh*t” under his breath every thirty seconds, and occasionally making hand gestures at construction while exclaiming “Oy! Oy! Oy!” it is an entertaining end to the trip, and it is important to tip well to pay for the show.


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