Category Archives: Art

12 Days of Christmas PETS — Bonus New Years Post

Happy New Year every one!

To celebrate I’m adding a bonus blog post today. This one is a logo for the 12 Days of Christmas Pets designed by my friend Hannah Eber.

Scanned DocumentHow cute is that?

Hannah is a 3rd year in University of Cincinnati DAAP’s industrial design program. She works mostly in product design, but enjoys handlettering and graphic design as hobbies. Also loves: sketching, dancing, playing the bass, eating steamed crabs (in addition to most all foods), and slowly reading classic novels.
Visit for some of her work in progress.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir 2.25 Thought of the Day


Self-portrait, (1875)

Self-portrait, (1875) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.” — Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on this day in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France in 1841. Today is the 173rd anniversary of his birth.


He was the sixth child born into a working class family. His father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress.  When he was four the family moved to Paris, there Auguste attended primary school. By the time he was  a teen he was working at the Lévy Frères factory, a porcelain factory. He already had an interest in art and he brought some of his drawings to work. He was …


chosen to paint designs on fine china. He also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans before he enrolled in art school. During those early years, he often visited the Louvre to study the French master painters. [Pierre Auguste]


His family lived near the Louvre and he often went there in his free time with his sketch book. “His favorite painting was The Bathers by FrançoisBoucher, a Rococo piece, which would later inspire some of his artwork.” []


At 21 he began to study art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he met Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.


He  was invited to exhibit at the 1864 Paris Salon, but he continued to struggle financially, sometimes he didn’t even have enough money to buy paint.


While his Salon works helped raise his profile in the art world, Renoir had to struggle to make a living. He sought out commissions for portraits and often depended on the kindness of his friends, mentors, and patrons. []


He served briefly in the French Army during the Franco-Prussian War, then returned to Paris at the end of the war. There he joined forces with his Impressionist friends to hold their own salon. The 1874 exhibit was a huge  success. Renoir’s six pieces in the show brought him to the attention of wealthy art patrons, such as the Georges and Marguérite Charpentier. “His 1878 painting, ‘Madame Charpentier and her Children,’ was featured in the official Salon of the following year and brought him much critical admiration.” [Ibid],”


English: Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) - Madame G...

English: Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) – Madame Georges Charpentier (Marguerite-Louise Lemonnier, 1848-1904) and her children, Georgette-Berthe (1872–1945) and Paul-Émile-Charles (1875–1895), 1878. Metropolitan Museum of Art Français : Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) – Madame Georges Charpentier (Marguerite-Louise Lemonnier, 1848-1904) et ses enfants, Georgette-Berthe (1872–1945) et Paul-Émile-Charles (1875–1895), 1878. Metropolitan Museum of Art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


His success allowed him to travel internationally. Renoir went to Algeria, Madrid, and Italy. He met opera composer Richard Wagner in Palemrmo, Sicily and rather famously painted his portrait in 35 minutes. In 1883 he went to Guernsey for the summer.


Girl with a Watering Can

Girl with a Watering Can (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Swing (La Balançoire), 1876, oil on canvas...

The Swing (La Balançoire), 1876, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Pierre-Auguste Renoir 104

Pierre-Auguste Renoir 104 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Femme Nue dans un Paysage, by Pierre-Auguste R...

Femme Nue dans un Paysage, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, from C2RMF cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In 1890 he married his longtime lover and muse Aline Charigot. They moved to a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer near the Mediterranean to help alleviate the effects of Renoir’s rheumatoid arthritis. The condition left him wheelhair-bound, his joints were so swollen he couldn’t hold a brush and his limbs were misshapen. “In the advanced stages of his arthritis, he painted by having a brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers.” [Pierre Auguste]  He died at the age of 78 on December 3, 1919.


Self-portrait, (1910)

Self-portrait, (1910) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




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Rene Magritte 11.21.13 Thought of the Day

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” — Rene Magritte

The Magician Self Portrait With Four Arms [Image courtesy:]

The Magician Self Portrait With Four Arms [Image courtesy:]

René François-Ghislain Magritte was born on this day in Lessines, Belgium, in 1898. Today is the 115th anniversary of his birth.

He was the eldest of three boys born to  Leopold and Regine Magritte. He liked drawing from an early age and began to take lessons  at 12.  At 14 his world was turned upside down when his mother, who…

suffered from depression… fled to go to throw herself over a bridge, into the river Sambre. A few days later, her body is found floating, her face covered by her nightgown; René… was deeply scarred by the image, which was later going to reappear in some of his works (The Heart of the Matter). []

In 1914 he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels to learn traditional painting techniques.  His “plan was to master these techniques before breaking free of them.” [Ibid] While at the Academy he was influenced by the Futurist, Cubist and Surrealist movements.  Because of the later, “Magritte decided to make each of his painting a visual poem.” [Ibid]

He began to work professionally and by 1927 had joined other Surealist artists (like Salvador Dali) . His first one-man show in Brussels was not a critical success in conservative Brussels, and he moved to Paris.

What set him apart from the other surrealists was his technique of juxtaposing ordinary objects in an extraordinary way; while Dali would “melt” a watch, playing with the consistency of an object (amongst other things), Magritte would leave objects intact, but play with their placement in reality, playing with logic. This technique is sometimes called Magic Realism. []

His witty and thought-provoking images and his use of simple graphics and everyday objects”… gave  “new meanings to familiar things.” []

Magritte died in Brussels on August 15th in 1967 at the age of 69.

Gonconda, 1953 [Image courtesy:]

Gonconda, 1953 [Image courtesy:]

Son of Man [Image courtesy:]

Son of Man [Image courtesy:]

The Two Lovers [Image courtesy:]

The Two Lovers [Image courtesy:]

The Month of the Grape Harvest, 1959  [Image courtesy:]

The Month of the Grape Harvest, 1959 [Image courtesy:]

This is Not an Apple, 1964 [Image courtesy:]

This is Not an Apple, 1964 [Image courtesy:]


James Montgomery Flagg 6.18.13 Thought of the Day

English: American artist James Montgomery Flag...

English: American artist James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I Want You for U.S. Army.”

James Montgomery Flagg was born in Pelham Manor, New York, USA in 1877. Today is the 136th anniversary of his birth.

He knew he wanted to be an artist at a young age. By 12 he sold his first illustration to St. Nicholas Magazine for $10. “By 14 he was a contributing artist for Life magazine, and the following year was on the staff of another magazine, Judge.”  [] Although he attended art school in New York, London and Paris he was dubious as to their benefit. He once said “Art cannot be taught. Artists are born that way…I wasted six years of my young life in art schools… You can’t breed an artist. You can only breed mediocrity.”  [] When he returned to the States he married Nellie McCormick, a St. Louis socialite 11 years his senior. The couple moved about the country eventually landing in New York City where Flagg established himself as a magazine illustrator.

English: Caricature of Rupert Hughes (1872-195...

English: Caricature of Rupert Hughes (1872-1956) by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He worked with a dozen or so of the top publications in the country and produced an illustration a day (on average).

Flagg was not only a productive illustrator, he was also enormously versatile.. Flagg displayed his powers in opaque and transparent watercolor and oils. He worked in monochrome for halftone reproduction; with a full palette for color reproduction. He was equally skilled in charcoal and pencil. He was even a consummate sculptor. No medium was too difficult for him and except for pastel (which he disliked) he used them all with ease.” []

Flagg started to draw for Photoplay Magazine in 1903, producing illustrated portraits of movie stars.

When the US entered World War I he joined a group of fellow artist called the Division of Pictorial Publicity which designed patriotic posters. Among the 46 posters Flag created is his famous “I Want You for the US Army”. He posed as Uncle Sam himself (to save the trouble and expense of finding a model.)

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was a fan of Franklin D. Roosevelt and created political posters promoting the New Deal and Roosevelt’s presidential campaigns.  When the US entered WWII he revived Uncle Sam and made a series of Red Cross posters.

After the War he mounted an exhibition of his fine art at the Ferargil Gallery in New York City. But by the 1950’s magazines had moved to photography over illustration and he found his skills less in demand.

He was outspoken and he didn’t suffer fools. He had a high opinion of himself and once said “The difference between an artist and an illustrator is that the latter knows how to draw, eats three square meals a day and can pay for them.”

Along with his artwork he also wrote screenplays and acted on both the stage and set.

Flagg died on May 27th , 1960. He was 83 years old.

Click HERE to see a nice selection of his artwork.

Jas. Montgomery Flagg  (LOC)

Jas. Montgomery Flagg (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Pieter Neefs the Younger 5.22.13 Thought of the Day

Interior of a Cathedral

Interior of a Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pieter Neefs, the Younger was born on this day in Antwerp, Belgium,  in 1620. Today is the  393rd anniversary of his birth.

Pieter  was one of five children born to Pieter Neefs the Elder and Maria Lauterbeens Neef.  Along with his brother, Ludovicus, he learned to paint from his father,  an established architectural painter. By 1640, when Pieter the Younger was 20 years old, he was working with his father and brother full-time, although he’d never gone through formal training or been registered at the guild hall.

Interior of a Church

Interior of a Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The subject of most of the Neefs paintings was the interiors of the great churches of Antwerp. The grand interiors of a church allowed the Neefs to explore both perspective and light in their detailed paintings.

Their most frequent subject was the interior of Antwerp Cathedral; the details of sculpture, altars and paintings vary in accuracy, and sometimes the subject seems to be very freely interpreted. The Neefs also liked to depict the effects of artificial illumination in crypt-like spaces (in the manner of Hendrick van Steenwijck the younger). [Sphinx Fine Art . com]

The artist worked together, often on the same subject, so it is sometimes difficult to tell where one Pieter’s work ends and the next Pieter’s work begins.

English: Interior of a Gothic Church

English: Interior of a Gothic Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Pieter Neefs the Younger’s work makes …

a more reserved impression; their colouring is smoother, and they are not as dark in the shadows, while their drawing is sharper. Solely working as architectural painters, they had the figures added to the finished works by colleagues. []

He died some time after 1675.

Interior of a Gothic Church

Interior of a Gothic Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Albrecht Dürer 5.21.13 Thought of the Day

“What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.” — Albrecht Dürer.

Self-portrait, 1498. Museo del Prado, Madrid. ...

Self-portrait, 1498. Museo del Prado, Madrid. Oil on wood panel, 52 cm x 41 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Albrecht Dürer was born on this day in Nuremberg, Germany in 1471. Today is the 542nd anniversary of his birth.

Dürer  was the third child born to Albrecht and Barbara Dürer. Although the family name “Dürer” means door maker, his father was actually a successful goldsmith. It was from his father that young Albrecht learned to work with gold and to draw. His talent for art led him to an apprenticeship with Michael Wolgemut at 15 and then to travel throughout Europe to study with various artist.

Durer self-portrait at the age of thirteen. , ...

Durer self-portrait at the age of thirteen. , Albertina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dürer’s skill set grew to include woodcuts, water colors, print making, drafting, and oil painting.

 Dürer revolutionized printmaking, elevating it to the level of an independent art form. He expanded its tonal and dramatic range, and provided the imagery with a new conceptual foundation. [The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

He came back to Nuremberg in 1495 and opened his own workshop. He did three woodcut series, Passion, Apocalypse and Life of the Virgin  in the next few years. His work included both sacred and secular subjects.

…Such as the so-called Master Engravings featuring Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513; 43.106.2), Saint Jerome in His Study (1514), and Melancholia I (1514; 43.106.1), which were intended more for connoisseurs and collectors than for popular devotion. Their technical virtuosity, intellectual scope, and psychological depth were unmatched by earlier printed work. [Ibid]

Dürer’s time abroad, especially in Italy, influenced his ascetic chiefly in the areas of persepective, proportion and human anatomy. He wrote the Four Books on Human Proportion.

c. 1490-1493

c. 1490-1493 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1512  the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian 1 became Dürer’s patron.

What Dürer was angling for was a lifetime imperial pension, and he got one, though at the price of taking on hackwork. Along with other court artists, he was ordered to design an array of ceremonial stage props to enhance the emperor’s status visually. Most of this stuff — chariots, arches, froufrou armor — was just shiny, expensive junk, and a waste of creative energy. []

That didn’t stop him from pursuing Maximilian’s successor, Charles V., as his next patron. About this time he also became interested in the teachings of Martin Luther.

Late in his life he painted his final masterpiece,  two large panels for the Nuremberg town hall, The Four Apostles. In one panel St. John is in the foreground with St. Peter in the background, in the second panel St. Paul takes the foreground with St. Mark in the background.

The Four Apostles

The Four Apostles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Four Apostles

The Four Apostles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He died in 1528 at the age of 56.

Dürer's Rhinoceros, a fanciful 'armoured' depi...

Dürer’s Rhinoceros, a fanciful ‘armoured’ depiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Phillip 4.19.13 Thought of the Day

John Phillip was born on this day in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1817. Today is the 196th anniversary of his birth.

Self Portrait Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections []

Self Portrait Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections []

His father was a former soldier and a shoe maker. The Phillip family was very poor. But John’s talents emerged when he was young and a patron made it possible for the boy to be educated at the Royal Academy of Arts in the Piccadilly area of London.

He was a member of The Clique, a group of artist started by Richard Dadd. The Clique eschewed high art in favor of genre painting (paintings of every day life).  The group, who were followers of Hogarth and Wilkie,  sketched a common subject and then critiqued each other’s work.

The Artist and His Wife (Maria Elizabeth Dadd) Aberdeen Art Gallery []

The Artist and His Wife (Maria Elizabeth Dadd) Aberdeen Art Gallery [] He married Richard Dadd’s sister Maria Eliabeth Dadd.

In 1857 he was made an associate of the Royal Academy, he earned full membership in 1859.

Disgorging the Fly (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

Disgorging the Fly (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

At first Phillip focused on scenes that idealized his Scottish past — simple, traditional, pious. In 1851 he took a trip to Spain for health reasons and shifted to painting shifted Spanish every day life. He made a total of three trips to Spain.

The Marriage of the Princess Royal (sketch) a painting commissioned by Queen Victoria to commemorate the marriage of her daughter. (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

The Marriage of the Princess Royal (sketch) a painting commissioned by Queen Victoria to commemorate the marriage of her daughter. (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

Queen Victoria, a fan of Phillip’s work –“who considered him to be Britain’s greatest portrait painter and entrusted him to paint the Royal Family portraits.  [About]– dubbed him “Spanish Phillip.”

The Spanish Flower Seller (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []
The Spanish Flower Seller (Aberdeen Art Gallery) []

Phillip was an immensely competent artist, his work distinguished by a boldness of handling and a strong sense of colour and chiaroscuro which seem typically Scottish. Spain bought out these characteristics, and the resulting paintings are dazzling evocations of Spanish life at its most picturesque and exotic, delighting in dramatic contrasts of light and shade and brilliant local colour illuminated by strong sunlight. [Golden Age Paintings.blogspot]

The Evil Eye (The Stirling Smith Art Gallery) []
The Evil Eye (The Stirling Smith Art Gallery) []

He died on February 27,  1867 in London.

Gustav Vigeland 4.11.13 Thought of the Day

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Adolf Gustav Vigeland was born on this day outside Halse og Harkmark  in Mandal, Norway in 1869. Today is the 144th anniversary of his birth.

He was born to Anne and  Elesæus Vigeland. His father was a master cabinetmaker. Gustave was interested in wood as a medium too, but he wanted to carve it, not make cabinets with it. He went to Oslo at 15 to apprentice at wood carving. His education was put on hold when his father died and Gustav returned home to help support he family. But by 1888 he was back in Oslo studying under sculptor Brynjulf Bergslien. In 1889 he premiered his first work, Hagar and Ishmael.

Portrett av Gustav Vigeland

Portrett av Gustav Vigeland (Photo credit: National Library of Norway)

Starting in 1891 she traveled to Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and Florence. His stay in Paris, studying  at Auguste Rodin’s studio had a particular influence on the young sculptor.

Themes of life, death and  love — at once intimate and grand in scale — made their way into his sculpture.

Conceptions of death recur in a number of his works, and his portrayals range from melancholy and desolation to deep affection and ecstasy of the embrace. [The Robinson Library]

Frogner famous for housing the Vigeland Sculpt...

Frogner famous for housing the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which was created by Gustav Vigeland in the 20th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His works were well received in art circles and by critics, but Gustav found he couldn’t make a living sculpting naked images of death or love.

He took a unfulfilling job helping to restore the Nidaros Cathedral in 1897 for a few years — it was there that he began to carve dragons and lizards, animals he used later to symbolize sin and the force of nature working against man. He spent a decade carving busts of Norway’s famous writers and thinkers. He designed the Nobel Peace Prize which was first awarded in 1901.

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Back of the Nobel Peace Prize. [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Gustav secured an abandoned studio from the city of Oslo starting in 1902. He used the work space for nearly two decades before it was demolished to make way for the new Deichman Library. At that point he negotiated with the city council for a new workspace. They would provide him with a new studio/living space and he would donate all his future art works to the city. (Which explains why so little is of Vigeland’s art is found outside of Oslo, and why the city is so beautifully decorated by it.)


Detail of some of the hundreds of sculpture in Vigeland Park. [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Oslo’s Vigeland Park  is the world’s largest sculpture park designed by a single artist. The park boast…

over 600 human figures engraved in 192 different sculptures. All of them, amazing. The masterpiece of the park is “The Monolith” a towering spire figures ascending to eternity. Gustav Vigeland is the man who designed the models for every sculpture in the park. A team of sculptures work for years to create all the granite and bronze statues. The various sculptures portray lots of widely ranging aspects of the human condition. There are many sculptures depicting intense emotions and feelings; love, parenthood, innocence, violence, suffering and joy. In all of the sculptures, there is a deeply moving and poetic statement about life. []

When he died in 1943 his studio was converted into The Vigeland Museum. Today the museum “houses approximately 1,600 sculptures, 420 woodcuts, and 12,000 drawings, as well as other artifacts such as notebooks, photographs, books, and thousands of letters belonging to Vigeland.” [Real Scandinavia]

Wheel of Life scuopture at Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Wheel of Life scuopture at Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

"Ball of Babies" at the Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

“Ball of Babies” at the Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Related blogs:

Michelangelo 3.6.13 bonus Thought of the Day

“I live and love in God’s peculiar light.” — Michelangelo

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Some days are deserts I struggle to find some one to profile on this blog…and some days are overwhelming. Today, besides Dame Kiri (who got the official Thought of the Day birthday nod) Michelangelo, Cyrano De Bergerac, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Willie Mays, and astronaut Gordo Cooper were on the A List for a possible birthday nod. I think it came down to the fact that I wanted to listen to some opera today, so Kiri won.

But I just can’t ignore Michelangelo. 

Especially given what is happening RIGHT NOW in what is arguably his most famous “installation” the Sistine Chapel.


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born  on this day in Caprese, Italy in 1475. Today is the 538th anniversary of his birth.

The family soon moved to Florence, when Michelangelo was still a baby. His mother was ill, so little Michelangelo was sent to a wet-nurse who was part of a family of stone cutters.

Michelangelo’s father realized early on that his son had no interest in the family financial business, so agreed to apprentice him, at the age of 13, to the fashionable Florentine painter’s workshop. There, Michelangelo was exposed to the technique of fresco. Michelangelo had spent only a year at the workshop when an extraordinary opportunity opened to him: At the recommendation of Ghirlandaio, he moved into the palace of Florentine ruler Lorenzo the Magnificent, of the powerful Medici family, to study classical sculpture in the Medici gardens. []

“Faith in oneself is the best and safest course.” — Michelangelo

He went back to Florence in 1495 and worked  as a sculptor. Three years later he moved to Rome where he met Cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas.

Michelangelo sculpted his Pieta, a sculpture of Mary holding the dead Jesus across her lap, for the Cardinal’s tomb.


Rome tickets & pictures 2010 082


Carved from a single piece of Carrara marble, the fluidity of the fabric, positions of the subjects, and “movement” of the skin of the Pieta—meaning “pity” or “compassion”—created awe for its early spectators. [Ibid]

His next major work was David.


front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He “turned the 17-foot piece of marble into a dominating figure.” [Ibid]

“A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.”— Michelangelo

Next he was asked by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The project fueled Michelangelo’s imagination, and the original plan for 12 apostles morphed into more than 300 figures on the ceiling of the sacred space. … Michelangelo fired all of his assistants, whom he deemed inept, and completed the 65-foot ceiling alone, spending endless hours on his back and guarding the project jealously until revealing the finished work, on October 31, 1512…. The resulting masterpiece is a transcendent example of High Renaissance art incorporating the Christian symbology, prophecy and humanist principles that Michelangelo had absorbed during his youth. The vivid vignettes of Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling produce a kaleidoscope effect, with the most iconic image being the Creation of Adam… [Ibid]


michelangelo (Photo credit: 熊͘)

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click here for a virtual 3-d tour of the Sistine Chapel.

“I am still learning.”— Michelangelo

After the Sistine Chapel his work moved more toward architecture. He designed the tomb for Pope Julius II, the Laurentian Library in Florence, and the Medici Chapel. In 1546 he was appointed as the new architect for St. Peters Basilica in Rome. He designed the famous dome that crowns the church and work was well underway on it when Michelangelo died on Feb 18, 1564.

Robert MacPherson (1811-1872) - Rome - St. Pet...

Robert MacPherson (1811-1872) – Rome – St. Peter’s Dome in the Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Judgment of Michelangelo Buonarroti

Last Judgment of Michelangelo Buonarroti (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The Last Judgement is a massive painting that takes up the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel. It took 4 years to complete.

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