Monday, March 29

Grab a good book

I've got to do a lot of this this week...

Woman Reading
by Mary Cassatt c. 1870s
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska

Don't you wish we could all look this ethereal when doing simple things like sitting down to read? Mary Cassatt was a master at making oil paintings look sweet and cozy.

Young Woman Reading
Mary Cassatt c. 1870s
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Friday, March 26

Found on Etsy

I love Etsy. Every time I click the link I feel like I'm stepping into some little undiscovered city park art festival.

Raspberry by Amber Alexander
8.5" x 11" Watercolor (Print)

Keyholes by Holly
11" x 8.5" Watercolor (Original)

Colorful Cactuses and Birds by JooJoo
8.5" x 11" Watercolor (print)

How I See It by Christine Lindstrom
5" x 5" Watercolor (original)

Autumn Bamboo by Marionette
7" x 8" Watercolor (original)

Okay, so maybe it doesn't feel exactly like that. But on this rainy Friday afternoon, it's as close as I'm going to get!

Tuesday, March 23

My inner battle with found object art

This weekend I went to the farmers market alone. This is a little dangerous considering this little weakness that I have... You see, I like things made out of found objects and one of the best places to find these sorts of things is at a farmers market.

Just in case you are scratching your head wondering what a found object has to do with art, here is a brief history. Found objects found their way into the mainstream art world around 1920 as a part of a greater artistic movement called Dadaism. Found object art work, also known as assemblage, is made out of random stuff you might find on the street, around your house or in a junk yard. Some of it will blow you away and some of it you may want to just throw away. And some of it really is, literally, trash. It's a strange genre. That's why I heart (most) of it.

Mechanical Bird by Jim Mullan
Left Bank Gallery, Orleans, MA
(made from an old hunting decoy and other found objects)

The first "official" found object artist was French father of Dada, Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp's famous 1917 work, Fountain, is arguably one of the most influential and most controversial art pieces of the post-modern art world. Why? Well...

Reproduction of Fountain (original lost)
Photographed by Alfred Stieglitz

...its a urinal. He found it, signed it with his alias and submitted to an art show. Most art historians will tell you that Duchamp's intention was for Fountain to be part commentary, part joke. Whatever his intention, Dechamp's found object jumpstarted a huge movement that reshaped the definition of art and led to millions of people uttering the phrase "that is not art!"

Now back to my inner battle.

I think this pug, made out of belt buckles, kitchen utensils and air-conditioning unit parts, is awesome. And, if I had no self-control, less judgmental friends (just kidding!) and loads of money, I would buy it. Today.

Pug by Leo Sewell

Since I do not want to weird out my friends and family by filling my house with life-size dogs covered in discarded wrenches and coke machine hoses, I fight the urge to bring such found object art home. My husband, who makes no secret of the fact that he hates found object art (especially the yard variety), reminds me every so often that I am not buy anything that even remotely resembles this:

Armadillo? via etsy

Or this:

Butterfly may out of toilet bowl buoy, via etsy

But let me tell you, this weekend's trip to the farmer market trip was a full on war. I almost came home with a few new pets:

I love pigs but the goat is my favorite. I think it would
be funny sitting next to the trash can in my kitchen.

I'm not into all types of found object art though. Bugs, robots and life-sized people made out of shovels and recycled car parts don't do anything for me. However, I find religious figurines, farm animals and things made out of license plates nearly irresistible.

I did give in to the temptation once on the side of the road in New Mexico when I was 19. I bought a small, rusted industrial can top covered in purple glitter with a holy card and some fake flowers and plastic gems hot glued to it. I just had to have it. (I believe Jenny has something similar, her's is teal.) My little New Mexican assemblage has been proudly displayed in a dorm room, an apartment and a condo kitchen. It now it lives on the book shelf in my home office. Every time I see it, I smile. That's probably weird.

I have desperately wanted one of these since first spotting it in a store window display in California many years ago.

via Apartment Therapy

They are all over the place now, so it is really only a matter of time...

And I can promise you that if I ever come face to face with a pig made out of license plates, my husband is out of luck. I'm a goner. That porker is going on the kitchen island.

Pig by Leo Sewell
NDI Gallery, London

Monday, March 22


Peter Paul Rubens' Allegory of War
c. 1628
Liechtenstein Museum

Friday, March 19

C'est le joli printemps

Nobody does spring quite like the French and nobody does springtime in France quite like Claude Monet. Nobody!

Spring in Giverny

Springtime on La Grande Jatte

Le Printemps

Fields in Spring

The Stroll

Spring has finally arrived here in the south and I hope it has come to your neck of the woods too. (If it hasn't, I'm sorry for rubbing it in.) Either way, have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, March 18

Kids these days

I am alarmed at the number 13 year olds reenacting the TiK ToK video on youtube. Where are their parents and do they have any idea what their 7th grade daughters are uploading to the internet!?!

Okay, I'm done.

This one is funny:

Wednesday, March 17

May the road rise up to meet you

Those words, taken from my favorite Irish Catholic blessing, seem to be captured perfectly by American artist Barrie Maguire.

Celtic Biker

Barrie fell hard for Ireland while vacationing there with his wife, Karen.

Rainy Day in Clare

He has been painting it ever since.

Morning Nap

I have never been to Ireland, but I can imagine why Mr. Maguire was so enchanted. His blog, Hijacked by Ireland, is full of paintings and other beautiful images of Ireland from his new day to day calendar, which I will be picking up for my fridge asap!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you and may God hold you in the palm of his hand!

"Christ shield me this day: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down,Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the
eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me”
-The Breastplate of Saint Patrick

Monday, March 15


I just discovered Polyvore and I am totally addicted. It is a free website that allows you to choose from tens of thousands of high resolution image files of everything from the latest fashions, fun fonts and backgrounds to create your own digital collages. You can move them, resize them and layer them to your hearts content. And the best part is, you can use it with absolutely no knowledge of complex graphic design programs!

Here is one I made yesterday:

Obviously, I had clothes on the brain. But, you can do so much more than just make you own fashion mood boards. While it is ultimately a brilliant marketing tool for designers and retailers, Polyvore is also a really cool and unexpected art portal. These caught my eye:

Art by Angie

Spring in Venise by Tanya777
(Yes, she spelled Venice that way...)

Saturday, March 13

SPRING BREAK...with Monet?

Rather than discuss my upcoming Spring Break trip (tomorrow morning, to be exact) to Florida, let's just pretend I'm off to Sainte-Adresse, France, for the week...

Terrasse à Sainte-Adresse
by Claude Monet, 1866-67
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Oh yes! I see me!

Looks like I'm not too interested in getting a tan this spring break...

Another view:

Régates à Sainte-Adresse
by Claude Monet, 1866-67
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Here I am again! Still shunning the vitamin D...

Ha-ha, I wish. I guess this will have to do :)

The poster I have of this in my dorm room doesn't exactly do
it justice now that I think about it...

Now I'm really thinking I should go buy a white parasol. Have a great week!

Friday, March 12

To Stitch or Not to Stitch?

When I was little my mom taught me how to cross stitch. I was really into if for a few months but then I stopped for like, 15 years. Now I'm thinking about starting it up again. Cross stitch is one of those things you never forget how to do. Plus, it's totally mindless so you can do it in front of the TV or at the pool or in line at the DMV or where ever.

So what do you think? Should I take up this traditional folk craft again or is it too...what's the phrase...

Golden Girls Cross Stitch Pattern

Speaking of old, cross stitch has been around for centuries. It can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty in China (618-906 AD) and has been a popular women's craft in virturally every culture since the middle ages. (1)

We saw some gorgeous examples of Chinese cross stitch and embroidery on a recent trip to China but unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures! (When a communist government says no pictures, they mean no pictures.) Chinese street markets and shops are filled all kinds of hand stitching, from exquisitely ornate to hideously tacky. I did alot of browsing, but in the end I didn't bring any home. The prices for works of noticeably good quality were steep and I wasn't willing to take any chances on buying something that was a fake.

Here are two beautiful examples of Chinese needlework from Ruby Lane:

Quiq Framed Embroidery, c. 18th century
Nicole La Bay via Ruby Lane

Suzhlou Silk Birds, c. 1950's
Bittersweet Antiques via Ruby Lane

By the 1600's the popularity of the Sampler was on the rise. (1) The first known sampler was made by a British woman named Jane Bostocke in 1598 and it is currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Samplers grew to play a major role in the education of young girls and traditionally included the alphabet and numbers. More detailed works included bible verses and primitive depictions of animals and flowers.

As the role of women in society and the work place changed and technology evolved, samplers become simply an amusing pastime. By the WWII, the cross stitch sampler's popularity had waned almost completely.

Antique Sampler
Ken's Antiques and Auctions of
Kingston, Georgia, Photo via Luxist Blog

Lately, cross stitch has seen a bit of a revival, which I believe is thanks to the wide variety of clever free patterns available online. As both a nerd and a child of the late 80's, this one by Johloh cracks me up:

Duck Hunt Cross Stitch

(PS: Johloh runs a website called Sprite Stitch, which is dedicated to "Video Game Crafts." I kid you not.)

While I do believe that the basset hound would look really good in a Duck Hunt bandana, I think I'm going to start out with one of these cute printable patterns by Andwabisabi Cross Stitch:

1) The Cross Stitch Guild, Threads of History by Jo Verso

Wednesday, March 10

Rainy day

What a gloomy day! All this rain makes me feel like I'm part of an Ashcan School painting.

Wet Night on the Bowery
by John Sloan, 1911
Delaware Art Museum

The "Ashcan School" was a group of eight American painters in the early 20th century that sought to portray life in an emotionally realistic way- with a gritty urban setting. American realist John Henri was their leader.

Snow in New York
by Robert Henri, 1902
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Typical subject matter included gritty scenes of poverty or bleak urban areas. Their work has also been referred to as "New York Realism."

I think this one is exquisite:

Six O'Clock, Winter
by John Sloan, 1912
The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Bring it

So I know I am going to get alot of hate mail from my friends and probably several shelter bloggers I love but...

These are overdone. Find a new poster.

(Oh stop it. You know you have been secretly thinking it too.)

Monday, March 8

So Sorry

I'm back. We art hearters have been busy with work, visitors, weekend trips and life in general. I promise more thoughtful (and educational) posts this week. But in the meantime, here's a glimpse into my weekend:

Salem College Campus, Winston Salem

Someone buy this please so I can stop obsessing about it:

A Patio in Arles by Gerrii Spach
Oil, Salem Art Sisters

On second thought, don't. Let me just step out for a lottery ticket right quick. That way I can buy this too:

Unknown artist, Salem Art Sisters

Now, I won't be spending my Carolina Cash 5 money on this creepy "John Wayne as a Baby" porcelain statue I found at an antique store this weekend, I can tell you that:

Mount Airy, NC

(I was sensing a theme...)

Mount Airy, NC

Mount Airy, NC
(aka Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show)

Coke signs always make me smile:

Americana at its finest
So do basset hounds:

And yet, he still has selective hearing.

And pretty surprises popping up in my yard:


And Costco:

Tulips from Costco

To all our lovely readers, thanks for spending a few minutes of your day with us. We will be better, I promise :)