Wednesday 25 May 2016

Easiest Delicious Chocolate Cake!

A few years ago my daughter wanted a chocolate cake for her birthday and I had never made one before. An internet search for recipes made me anxious as I found that chocolate cake was a lot more complicated to make than I expected. Even with the addition of "simple" to my search the results were still not very promising. I found one, however, that seemed do-able and it is this faultless recipe that I have been using annually to great joy! Apologies to whomever originally posted this recipe for not getting full credit here, but at the time I did not realise I would be sharing it in this manner nor did I realise what a keeper it would turn out to be.

Moist Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Ingredients:       2 cups flour 
                        2/3 cup cocoa
                        1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
                        1/4 teaspoon baking powder
                        3 eggs
                        1 2/3 cups sugar (I use a mix of regular white granulated & brown sugar)
                        1 teaspoon vanilla
                        1 cup mayonnaise (do not use a substitute)
                        1 1/3 cups water

I like to get everything together and then put items away after use. You need two mixing bowls.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour 2 - 9" round cake pans. 

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. 

Mix well and set aside.

Beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl for 3 minutes, using the high speed of an electric mixer. Mixture should be smooth and creamy. 

Reduce speed to low and beat in mayonnaise until blended.

Add flour mixture in batches, alternating with water, in 4 equal additions (1/4 of the flour, then 1/4 of the water etc).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.

Pin a band of wet towelling around the cake tins to get a more evenly baked cake. I think I got this tip from one of my nieces and it really works well!

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake is clean when removed. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and allow to cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.

For birthday cake I make a simple butter icing with sugar, butter, a bit of vanilla and some boiling water. I have used a small amount of yellow food colouring for the initial icing in the cake sandwich and the base colour for the top.

I separated some of the icing into small bowls to add other colours, placed in small food bags and cut a corner in order to create a makeshift icing bag to squeeze out  loose designs and writing for cake decoration. This is a really moist and delicious chocolate cake!

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Stable IMMAGES - Studios 9 & 10

It seems like ages, but it was only two weeks ago that I went to IMMA to see the exhibition of first year IADT art students. The exhibition was the culmination of research and work they had been creating in response to being based at the Irish Museum of Modern Art since January.  In my previous post I had a look at some of the work that required darkness for exhibition (in Studio 5) and some of the work that was sited outside. As I said in that post, I was very impressed with the cohesiveness of the exhibition and maturity of the work. 

On entering these exhibition spaces, via Studio 9 the variety and scope of the work was immediately apparent.

There were two short animated videos on one monitor. This one used the images of a red hand and a red face to interact with specific surfaces in the architecture of IMMA.

There was quite a lot of research into IMMA's architecture in this series of drawings & photographs, but because there were no labels for individual works, I could only wonder if this was the research behind the blue scale model of IMMA hung on the wall in Studio 5 (I posted a picture of it last week).

I spoke to the artist who took these photographs of colourful, temporary interventions she had made on various IMMA walls.

This photographic installation referred to the Greek myth of Narcissus.

The works are self-portraits of the artist, distorted by photographing through smoke, water and other materials.

Apparently this artist intensively examined architectural spaces around IMMA before creating detailed temporary chalk on black board drawings.

This series of photo documentation of mirror and light experiments was intriguing.

And I wondered if these experiments were the background for this installation of plastic sheeting and blue threads? However, this I will not know as I only met a couple of the students, and hadn't asked about this piece at the time.

So my gripe about the show is regarding non-labelling and attibution. Although the artists involved were named at the entrance to the studios, a floor plan should have been available to answer simple questions of authorship. Otherwise, I was greatly impressed by the exhibition and look forward to seeing more work by these developing artists.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Stable IMMAGES 1 - Studio 5 & Grounds

On the weekend I went to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to check out the exhibition of work by the first year IADT Dún Laoghaire art students. These students had been based in IMMA studios since January and this final exhibition was a culmination of their research work in responding to that experience. The exhibition was spread over three studios and the grounds, so I will do another post to cover some more of the work. Studio 5 was darkened to accommodate all the works that needed to have a dark room for display. One of the first years, who was invigilating the studio, was very enthusiastic in discussing the work, the makers, and their inspirations so I got some great insight into the work. This first visible projection was created jointly by two women who were inspired by the statuary on the grounds of IMMA. It was a moving projection, so the image was constantly changing (so impossible to capture in a still image). 

I had met her previously, so I know this next moving projection was by Joanne Harold and she was inspired by the garden balustrades.

Another female art student created this sculptural video piece in response to the arches in the basement of IMMA.

 Unfortunately the pieces were not labelled, so the artists cannot be acknowledged by me, but this piece was in response to being aware of light reactions through the coloured acetate lettering in the main reception foyer of IMMA.

This piece is a carefully measured model of the IMMA building itself and treating the building as the artwork.

The artist here was creating a design for lighting in the extensive gardens at IMMA. 

I was struck by the maturity of the work and the coherency of the exhibition, though I was disappointed that there was no labelling of works or accompanying floor plan in order to acknowledge attribution (just a page of names and general location on the wall at the entrance).

 Though I did not see all the outdoor pieces, it was a gorgeous day and this woven branch work was unmissable!

Also, as I was leaving I saw this graffiti piece - painted plastic stretched between two trees.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Sword Story - Animation - Monoprints

Part of The Skipping Project  will include several short videos, which themselves include some animated footage. The first of these videos I have entitled Sword Story and it will include an animated girl carrying a sword superimposed on found military footage (eg, marching feet). So I did some cel drawings in pencil, but I decided I wanted the animated figure to be loose and sketchy instead of too fiddly as my pencil drawings are wont to be.

I decided on monoprints for cels -- the printing process would reverse my images and also the monoprinting process allows any number of "accidents" to take place. At first I was going to use a copper plate to paint on with alkyd (water based oil paint) but decided I could use a thin piece of plexi glass plastic as a plate, and then I could paint over the cel beneath.

I am working small, so it gives me another chance to make use of my pasta machine printer!

One of the printed cels with the original plate.

 The monoprinting process is fairly quick, especially on such a small scale. There are lots of unexpected results, where the paint is thicker and thinner, more faded, etc. Next step is preparing the cels in PhotoShop, applying a green screen and animating in front of found footage. Onward and upward!