Monday, December 28, 2015

Artists and Christmas Cards

I was going through an old basket of items from my Father’s childhood looking for a particular old letter my dad wrote to his mom one summer while he was staying with his grandmother. He calls himself Sammy in the letter and my brother was amused. I was going to do something creative with it and give it to him for Christmas. I never found the letter he wanted but I did find some old vintage cards. One was a Christmas card. It was a small work of adorable art.

I got to thinking about the artists behind these cards and so I started hunting for vintage Christmas cards where the artist could be identified.
                      Ellen Clapsaddle she has signed the card on the bottom left and it went to print that way. 

This week enjoy Artists and Christmas Cards! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Art of Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning.

We wait for it all year with excitement, anticipation, anxiety, dread, fear, joy, hope and over a thousand other emotions and thoughts.

Things march across my mind. Will there be snow? Will Santa stop by?  Are my girls going to get along or emotionally bash each other as sister can so expertly do? Will I have enough Champagne? (For my secret stash in my room as well as the family.) Will my cat stay trapped in the right bedroom so she has access to the litter box?

This week we look at Christmas Morning.

                                                         Henry Mosler - Christmas Morning

I will confess I am a little sad it will soon all be over.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ornament Reflection

As I was waiting for inspiration to land on my shoulder and whisper in my ear I was looking at my Christmas tree.

Some ornaments are frosty, matte, 

sparkling like a disco ball. 

Some are crystal stars,

 glittering pine cones

 and a few have a mirror like sheen. I could see myself in reflection.

There it is, she whispered. Find artists who have painted a Christmas ornament and included a reflection.

This week I present Ornament Reflection.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Journey To Bethlehem

Caesar has ordered a census. Everyone twelve years or older must go to their city of origin to register and pay taxes.
                                                 A painting of Bethlehem by Vasily Polenov, 1882

Joseph is descended from the line of David and so he must go to Bethlehem. His very,  pregnant fiance Mary is also from the line of David so she must also go to Bethlehem.  They live in Narzareth, Bethlehem is over 65 miles away. It will take five days to walk the distance. 
The terrain is a varied landscape, hills, forests, valleys where  lions, bear and boar roam freely . Bandits and robbers would have been lying in wait, ready to grab at any of the passing people traveling by. 

This week enjoy Journey To Bethlehem.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Bringing Home the Tree

Every year, when we were not living half-way around the world, we would go to my Granny’s house for Thanksgiving.  My Grandpa grew Christmas trees on several of his acres. 

We would always go out on Sunday after lunch and cut one down to take home.

Driving the winding roads of West Virginia back to our home with a tree securely tethered to our car roof was an adventure all by itself. Stopping every so often so my parents could re-secure the ropes, watching stray branches flap around outside our window and cheering my dad on as he bundled the tree in through the back door.

Putting up my tree today has me thinking about that wonderful tradition and memory of my childhood.  I have chopped down and dragged out my own trees several times in my adult life creating adventures for my own children.

As you reflect on some of your own Christmas Tree adventures enjoy this week’s Bringing Home the Tree.

Monday, November 23, 2015

We Are Talking Turkey

This week, the week of Thanksgiving I have devoted to paintings of turkeys.

While we may find it a delicious entrée for a Thanksgiving feast the number of artists who have painted this …. Uh….. Colorful bird are few.

                                                                      The Birds of America by John James Audubon

Turkeys are native to the Americas so seeing one in 1423 in Holland was not likely.

An ancient breed of turkey hangs in a larder in this 1566 century painting by Flemish master Joachim Beuckelaer.

The first turkey was introduced to England in 1550 by Sir William Strickland of Boynton and when he was granted a Coat of Arms it included “turkey-cock in his pride proper”.

Enjoy some Turkey!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Howdy Pilgrim

Pilgrim – A person who journeys to a scared place for religious reasons

Since people (the Pilgrims) made a journey and landed in America to pursue their religion, does that make America a sacred place?

Pilgrim comes from the Latin word peregrinus which translates traveler, someone from afar, who is going on a journey, pilgrimage.

In many faiths like those of the, ancient Egyptians, Persians, 

Pilgrims pray at the Ka'bah in the Great Mosque in Makkah. The painting, dated 1442, is by the Persian artist Bihzad.

and Chinese to name a few it was a common practice to make a pilgrimage.  In Hebrew history pilgrims traveled to Shiloh and Jerusalem while in the Middle Ages Christians made a pilgrimage to Rome.
                                        The Pilgrims Meet Pope Cyriac before the Walls of Rome - Vittore Carpaccio

The saga of the Pilgrims who came to America began with a group of religious dissidents who were being persecuted for their different religious beliefs.
Robert W. Weir - This painting depicts the Pilgrims on the deck of the ship Speedwell on July 22, 1620, before they departed from Delfs Haven, Holland, for North America, where they sought religious freedom.

The passengers of those first 4 ships were called “First Comers”. It was not until the early 1800s that they became known as Pilgrims.

This week say “Howdy Pilgrim!”

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Different Kind of Cranberry

Where October is orange in my mind November is red, the color red of a cranberry.  Where October is round like a pumpkin November is round like a cranberry.

Cranberries were known as Craneberries by early European settlers in America due to the shape of their pink flowers which, look like the head of a crane. 

Some settlers called them Bearberries as bears were very often seen eating them. 

In Canada they may be referred to as Mossberries and the traditional English name for them is Fenberry from fen meaning marsh where they are found growing. The Algonquian people that are native to North America called the cranberries Sassamanash. They used the berries  as food, medicine and dye.

Cranberries ripen to a deep red when they are ready to be harvested which can occur starting in September through the fist weeks of November.

Cranberries in history include a very famous petticoat worn by a sassy Mary Ring of whom I am sure I am related as I would have also worn some in this color. She apparently died her petticoats and other undergarments with cranberries and they were a lovely bright shade of pink. Her husband realizing the popularity and potential value of this among the men and women auctioned off her cranberry petticoats.

This week please enjoy A Different Kind of Cranberry.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cornucopia Art in Abundance

November is here and I think about Cornucopias overflowing with bounty. Bounties of food, drink, love, thanksgiving and so much more. 


Latin - cornu copiae - meaning horn of plenty. 

Cornucopias or the Horn of Plenty has been used in Western Art for centuries as a symbol of abundance and nourishment.  It is usually depicted as a great horn overflowing with  a profusion of subject matter. 

                      Very old Florida advertising poster

Zeus, while an infant in hiding from his father Kronos was given unending nourishment 

from the broken horn of Amalthea his nursemaid who had taken the form of a goat. 

The goddesses Fortuna, 
           Dupondius Hadrian 117-138 A.D. -  Fortune with cornucopia 

Abundantia and Annona are often seen holding a Cornucopia. As is Plutos the son of Demeter goddess of the grain. 

The Great Seal of North Carolina

 has a Cornucopia as does the Coat of Arms of Columbia 

and Peru. 

It is recently most often associated with Thanksgiving and a bounty of Earths harvest. You will find them as centerpieces, decorations and enthusiastic artwork from 1st graders. 

This week I present a Cornucopia of Cornucopia Art in Abundance. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ghostly Art

Many of us have heard the Scottish Prayer :

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

My Mother used to say it to us when we were children. 

A ghoul is an evil spirit and comes to us from Arabian Mythology. They are associated with graveyards but dwell in the desert They are shape-shifters often taking on the guise of a hyena and are known to feast on human flesh. Ghouls will also eat the dead and have been known to take on the form of the dead person they most recently dined upon. 
            "Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of theOne Thousand and One Nights.

Ghosts are the apparitions of the dead that manifest to the living. They can be human or animal. Ghosts have been described as being invisible, barely visible and wispy or very lifelike. Ghosts are solitary and can haunt places, objects, or people they were associated with in life. 
                                                         Hamlet and the Ghost by Henry Fuseli

The Cihuateteo or Divine Women are the spirits of women who die during childbirth. The Aztec believe that child birthing is a battle and women who die giving birth are treated like brave and glorious fallen warriors. The remains of such women ere often carried into battle by warriors. The Cihuateteo accompany the setting sun. There are 5 sacred days where the Cihuateteo descend to earth haunting at crossroads looking for children to steal and take with them in place of their own which was lost to them upon their death. 

Brutus and the Ghost of Caesar. Copperplate engraving by Edward Scriven from a painting by Richard Westall
This week enjoy some Ghostly Art.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Witching Hour Art

Black cats, pumpkins and this week Witches. 

                                    ArtistTerri Ann Foss 

The Dictionary describes a witch as: 
1. A woman who is supposed to have evil or wicked magical powers

2. A person who practices magic or sorcery, a sorceress 

3. An ugly or mean old woman, hag

4. A person who uses a divining rod, dowser

5. A practitioner of witchcraft

It comes from the old English words wicca - sorcerer and wicce - sorceress (that just feels backwards to me) which came from an older German word wikko which translates from necromancer or sorcerer. That comes from an even older European word weik which means to separate or divide and weyk which means to set aside as holy, consecrate, sacrifice. Sprinkle the translation with a word from the Dutch of wichelen, to foretell. Conjure up the ancient German word wikkjaz (you are going to love this one) one who wakes the dead. Last add two shakes of the old Gothic word weihs which means sacred and you have the recipe for what became witch. 
                                                  The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Pumpkin

Last week we looked at Black Cats this week we shift focus to Pumpkins

Pumpkins come from the squash family 

and are native to North America. We are all familiar with pumpkin pie but did you know that the pumpkin in cans of Pumpkin Puree is not the same pumpkin used for "Jack-O-Lanterns"? The delicious and convenient puree in a can is made from a different variety of pumpkin or winter squash while carving pumpkins are from a variety called Connecticut Field variety.

The word pumpkin comes to us from the Greek word pepon which became pompon through the French with the British making it pumpoin and finally in America it became pumpkin. 

These bright, cheerful squash grow on every continent but Antarctica. 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year. 

The carving of Pumpkins for Halloween originated from an Irish myth about a man name "Stingy Jack" or you may know the story by the name "Jack of the Lantern".

The tradition of a carved squash turned lantern came over to America with the Scottish, and immigrants. 

As we continue our look into things associated with Halloween I present The Pumpkin.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Black Cat Enchantment

October is my favorite month.  The weather looks like it is begging fall to come out and play and yet it looks back over its shoulder at summer as it scampers away with a sigh of sadness.  It is a time of hope to me and I welcome the change it promises to bring;  like gifts for Christmas. October is also the home of a favorite Holiday for me, Halloween and all the glorious themes that we associate with  Hallows' eve.  

Black Cats

I have a black cat. His name is Goblin and he came to live with me in October of 2002. I call him my House Panther and he has thumbs.  I did not choose him, he was meant for me. I was on my way to a clients and when I got there they were all outside in the boatyard chasing a mother cat and her three kittens to take them to a Shelter.  I offered to take one home and when they asked which one I said let GOD choose.  So the first kitten they captured was my little black one.  They had not caught any others before I left so he came with me. 

Black Cats 

More male cats are black than female cats.  Most black cats have golden eyes.

                                                              Bombay by Josh Norem
 Goblin has green eyes. 

Folk Superstition

Black cats symbolize good luck in Japan. 

                                      Hishida Shunsō (Japanese 1874-1911) ~ Kuroki Neko (Black Cat)

 Scottish folk believe a black cat arriving at your door brings prosperity. In Great Britain a black cat walking away from you takes away luck but a black cat walking toward you brings good luck with it.  Egyptians believed they could gain favor from the goddess Bast 

if they kept a black cat in their home.  Pirates believe that if a black cat walks aboard the ship and then suddenly departs the ship will sink. 

                                                       Vintage Halloween Greeting Card

In some cultures the black cat was associated with witches and demons. The Pilgrims who were extremely superstitious and would do and say anything to protect their new found religious freedom believed that they were spies and carried  messages from Satan. This vilification of black cats dates back to an ancient religious document known as Vox in Rama, a sort of death warrant for all black cats

This week enjoy Black Cat Enchantment.