Sunday, January 31

Okay, I'll admit that it's pretty.

A glimpse into our snowy weekend:

Friday, January 29

Weekend Weather

Snow, ughh. They are calling for a foot if it here in the foothills tonight. I'm not a fan. I am a fan of Claude Monet though. And this snowy scene of the road outside of his home is a favorite of mine.

The Road to Giverny, Winter
by Claude Monet c.1885

I cannot get enough of those pink trees framing that creamy white church. And that road! It just looks delicious, like someone ran a fork through the top of a freshly iced cake.

Daydreaming about this painting (and dessert) suddenly triggered an old memory and I just realized something; Claude Monet is the reason why I heart (most) art! Actually, to be more specific, the reason I heart (most) art is because of this book about Claude Monet's life at his country home named Giverny:

My first art history book

I'm pretty sure my grandparents gave it to me when I was 7 or 8. It tells the story of a little girl's first visit to Giverny and mixes in first hand accounts of the painter's life and work told by his grandchildren. I read it constantly.

We used to climb the old brick walls around the bird sanctuary in my neighborhood on days it was closed and I pretended it was Giverny. It isn't anywhere near France, but it had both footbridges and lilly ponds.

This book led to the purchase of many posters, countless postcards and bookmarks. Since it was on featured on the book jacket, The Japanese Footbridge was first. It came pre-framed from Garden Ridge.

The Japanese Footbridge
c. 1899
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Irises came second:

Monet's Garden, the Irises
c. 1900
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

And then there was Antibes:

Antibes (On the French Riviera)
c. 1888
The Courtauld Institue of Art, London

As my taste in art changed the posters came down slowly, one by one. They were replaced by art deco ads, collages, picture frames and paintings borrowed from other rooms in the house. Antibes held out the longest, finally coming down this past year, when my mom turned my old room into a guest room. It is, and always will be, my favorite.

As a child I was convinced that heaven looks a lot like Monet's garden in full bloom. I still believe that.

Can you tell I'm ready for spring?

Wednesday, January 27

An Answer for Jennifer

My friend Jennifer of The Newlywed Diaries recently bought a small reproduction painting for her living room. She has been noticing dutch style portraits popping up all over the decorating world and had been eyeing this at a local store. She decided to buy it this weekend and hung it in her living room. I think it looks really nice:

She suspected it was a Rembrandt and she is correct!

A Young Girl Leaning on a Window-Sill, c 1645
by Rembrandt van Rijn

This portrait, titled A Young Girl Leaning on a Window-Sill, was painted when the artist was 39 and at the height of his career in Amsterdam. It is definitely a captivating and slightly sensual portrait! The unknown young woman is leaning casually out a window, rolling her gold necklace through her fingers. Her gaze is alittle tired (but not bored ) and she seems to be staring right at the viewer. Johnathan Jones, art writer for The Guardian newspaper, sees this work as more sexual in nature than I do. (The rosy cheeks, loose shirt, cleavage, tousled hair....). If you are interested, you can read his comments here.

Rembrandt's portraits were highly sought after in the 1630' and 40's when his studio grew to employ several apprentices. (1) The work turned out of his shop has this distinct, smokey, slightly rough look. His figure paintings are famous for both their life-like detail and for the dramatic use of light. Rembrandt's subjects tend to look as if they are emerging out of the shadows, or that the sun is peaking through heavy curtains to give us just a quick glimpse of their face.

Philosopher in Meditation, c. 1632
The Louvre, Paris

The artist's faithfulness to this style can be seen in the over 90 self portraits he painted throughout his lifetime. He often painted himself in costume (as a beggar, in oriental dress, as the Apostle Paul etc) and this prolific series helped him become one of the most recognizable artists in the Dutch Republic. (2)

Self Portrait as a Yong Man (age 22)
c. 1628
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Self Portrait in Painter's Costume (age 56)
c. 1660-62
Kenwood House, London, UK

Jennifer's painting is excellent representation of Rembrandt's work. While his shadowy style does tend to lead people see his subjects as dark and unhappy, A Young Girl Leaning on a Window-Sill is a great example of his ability to capture relaxation and happiness in his subject's features. The background may be dark, but her face is full of light.

(1) A Worldly Art by Mariet Westermann*

*I highly recommend Ms. Westerman's books, her research is great but she doesn't overwhelm you with hard to read academic language. A Worldly Art is a good place to start if you want to learn more about the artistic and political history of the Dutch Republic. It is available in paperback.

Monday, January 25

Marie Antoinette Lives!

Portrait of Marie Antoinette Queen of France
by Jacques-Fabien Gautier d'Agoty
Musee National du Chateau, Versailles, France

And she's designing clothes in China:

Versailles inspired couture by Chinese designer Guo Pie.

Sunday, January 24


This is why museums have insurance.

Pablo Picasso's The Actor
c. 1904
The Met, NYC

My guess is she fell face first into it while holding a pen. Ouch!

It's dreary here

Nocturne: Blue and Silver- Chelsea
James Abbott McNiell Whistler
Oil on Wood c. 1871
Tate Gallery, London

...and the view out my window looks like Whistler could have painted it.

Nocturne: The Thames at Battersea
James Abbott McNiell Whistler
Lithograph c. 1878
The Met, NYC

Soggy and smokey and grey and frigid cold. My husband calls it 'good napping weather.' I just call it blah.

Friday, January 22

Thursday, January 21

We said most...

Do you remember several years ago when it seemed like everyone was having those elaborate murals painted on the walls and ceilings of their kid's rooms? Clouds were really big:

Well, I am really glad that trend has run out of gas because there are some bad murals out there:

Why make your perfectly good house
look like it has holes in the roof?



Four words: Lord of the Rings

(please note that Goofy is holding onto God's shoulder)

The miserable economy can't possibly be good for mural artists (even really great ones) and I have noticed more and more people are turning to a newer, cheaper form of wall decor-- vinyl decals.

I would like to officially go on record as a hater. I figure that we have a bunch of fatheads to thank for this. As far as I can tell, they started this with their colorful line of man room decor:

War Eagle and everything, but I will never
have one of these in my house. Sorry honey.

Kid Rock can chill like Flynt in your living room!

Recently, Fathead expanded their line to include fine art. And while I am all for posters of great works of art (I own several), there is just something wrong about a peel and stick Caravaggio:

These things are everywhere. I am seeing them all over magazines, in boutiques and I even saw a few in Homegoods over the weekend.

Okay, I will admit that some of them aren't that bad. These decals from artist PopWall could be cute in the right space ( a day spa or preschool):

Except this one. This one is really beyond words:

I rest my case.

*Pooh photo via this hilarious site.

PS. Last night, my husband informed me that my last post makes me look like a pot head. I'm sure my references to Kid Rock and Lord of the Rings aren't helping me any but, just to clarify, I am not a pot head. I really was looking for stained glass. :)

Wednesday, January 20

That's pretty?

So apparently Etsy is more than just an arts and crafts exchange...


Yes, that is a hand-blown art glass bong. It is one of hundreds (not exaggerating) for sale in the glass section on Etsy. The "artist" lives in Colorado, go figure.

*No, I wasn't. I was looking for stained glass.

Tuesday, January 19

The Cradle of Liberty

I have the Bay State on my mind today.

Historic Map of Boston
The University of Texas Map Collection

Samuel Adams is one of my favorite historical figures and I love this portrait of him pointing at the Massachusetts Charter:

Samuel Adams
by John Singleton Copley c. 1772
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

He looks very confident and I like how intensely he has his fist wrapped around the papers in his right hand. It looks like he just pounded on the table yelling loudly, "Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can."

Statue of Samuel Adams at Faneuil Hall
By Anne Whitney, 1876

Boston is home to an extraordinary collection of statues and paintings of America's founders. Sam Adams' portrait painted by John Singleton Copley resides in the Museum of Fine Arts and is truly a national treasure. So is this one, also by Copley:

Paul Revere
by John Singleton Copley c. 1768-1770
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Copely was a friend of fellow Boston artist Gilbert Stuart. He even sat for Stuart, which is think is so cool:

John Singleton Copley
Painted by Gilbert Stuart c.1784
National Portrait Gallery, London, England

Together the pair really cornered the market on portraits of American founders and presidents and we owe them a great deal of thanks. They captured American history with paint and gave us great faces to put with great names.

(PS. It's a bit ironic because Copley was kind of a Loyalist...but that's a lesson for another day.)

Monday, January 18

A word on mass-produced art

This weekend, while I was on the way to meet my parents at the nearest giant purveyor of mass-produced Swedish furniture and home decor,

I drove on a stretch of I-85 near Lexington, NC that is named for artist Bob Timberlake. Bob is kind of the Thomas Kincaid of the southeast and he has a huge gallery/ furniture & home accents store/ coffee shop in Lexington. (BTW, Lexington is also home NC's "western style" barbecue. It is a town of about 20,000 people and it has 17 barbecue restaurants. They don't mess around.)

While I am generally not one for mass-produced art, I do appreciate the tremendous business success of artists like Bob Timberlake, Thomas Kincaid and yes, even Wyland:

Just one name, like Prince.

These guys really have a knack for marketing. They are EVERYWHERE. And honestly, Bob Timberlake is a talented painter. (Oh stop that you hoity- toity gallery crawler, you know he is) See:

His prints aren't my thing, but I think that it is cool that Mr. Timberlake has parlayed his artistic talent into an internationally successful business, headquartered in his rural hometown. He paints his state, generates alot of money for the local economy and he even has a major interstate named for him. While that may get scoffed at by academics in the art world, when you really think about it, it is a pretty great thing.

Friday, January 15

This weekend's art project

This paint is expensive:

but this color is pretty:


So it is worth it.