Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Inspirations in Visual Art

What if a light bulb and a soft-serve
ice cream cone had a baby?

You'd get a CFL
(Compact Fluorescent Lamp)
[From the JoyReactor Website]

I'm always looking for inspiration for art projects, lesson plans, and especially what to blog about. Now that I have 136 posts, it is becoming increasingly more challenging to come up with ideas. I had hoped that my readers would comment, asking me to include topics of interest to them. After posting seven Baltics posts of June 2019, I received a request from one of my most avid readers for another in-depth series which resulted in six Art of the Pacific Northwest posts of July 2020.  I continued with Artist Interviews in September of 2020. That suggestion came from a website listing art blog ideas.

Smudgy the Cat from

Of late, my inspiration comes from baseball, shelter animals, teaching art to multiple age groups, art museums, and travel. When I visit new cities, I keep an eye out for local art such as sculptures and murals. Movies and other media also provide interest when I see art displayed in scenery, actors playing famous artists, or stolen artwork in the newspaper. It's fun to include Art in the News as part of my monthly elementary school lessons.

Vase of Peonies on a
Small Pedestal
Édouard Manet

Following the art docent model of the Interurban Center for the Arts, I always include an inspirational work by a famous artist from which to pull an art concept, element, or principle of art. For example, I would use Jackson Pollock for a lesson about LINE. And for Positive-Negative Space I will always turn to Édouard Manet.

Two Crabs (1889), Vincent Van Gogh

My family, friends, and colleagues encourage me to do more art. Museums are always stimulating, especially when I discover another Van Gogh painting or see a Rembrandt in person! Flemish artist, Peter Paul Rubens heavily influenced both artists. Van Gogh was also influenced by his friend, Paul Gauguin, who encouraged him to paint from his imagination, French realist Jean-François Millet, other Impressionists, and Japanese art. Van Gogh painted Two Crabs in 1889 as an experiment in complementary colors inspired by the color theory of Eugène Delacroix.
In May of 2017, I saw it hanging in The National Gallery in London's Trafalgar Square.

Emily's Chicken

I wonder if PawsWithCause resident artist, Emily, was inspired by Van Gogh's crabs. Here is her portrait of a chicken in a very similar contrasting color scheme. Amazing! And I love the brushstrokes!!

My Charcuterie Board (2022)

Taking art classes and exploring new mediums and techniques instigates new hobbies and adds to your toolbox. I especially enjoyed learning the art of wood burning when my daughter and I took a class to decorate charcuterie boards. The recent COVID pandemic prompted me to engage in teaching online classes with Heart Art Healing and their Circle of Love. I've also been moved by family members requesting me to teach art to homeschoolers. And while looking for classroom spaces to teach such groups I was asked to teach art at a city-sponsored Summer camp.

Judy's Family Portrait Collage (2019)

I think the students that inspire me the most are other seniors. While I am amazed at the existing talent of senior citizens, I am happy to see the less confident ones discover talent they weren't aware they had. This is why I teach at Franke Tobey Jones Senior University in Tacoma. It's almost always the same group of 12-15 artists, some who are painters, a quilter, and several novices, all of whom bring their enthusiasm to my classes. My Collage Portraits with Seniors class was particularly successful!

PushMePullYou from Dr. Dolittle (1967)
is different than motivation. Some say that inspiration is a 'pull' while motivation is a 'push'. Inspiration is typically an internal, mental or emotional influence to do something creative. Motivation is more of a process of external stimulation with definite actions designed to achieve a goal. For example, weight loss could be a goal motivated or prescribed by a doctor to make a person healthier. The inspiration could be imagining yourself in a bathing suit or noticing the successful weight loss journey of another person. It may inspire you to think of creative ways to cook meals and make healthier choices.

My own motivation to do art is to inspire others to do it. My goal is to write in my blog every two weeks, to keep it interesting, and to get comments as a way of improving it or gauging its success. My hope is that my writing inspires others to be more creative, recognize and appreciate creativity in themselves and others, and feel good looking at, doing, or talking about art.

So, what inspires you? Creativity comes from the inside although it is often sparked by an outside stimulus.

Observation gives us the opportunity to realize and gain creative insight. Hopefully, this blog will inspire you to put forth the effort and provide you with the means, energy and enthusiasm needed to dedicate yourself to reaping your own artistic rewards.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

More Artist Jeopardy

Back in February of 2020, I posted Artist Jeopardy. As a follow-on challenge for both Jeopardy fans and art enthusiasts, here are four more categories to test your knowledge of famous artists. I'll start with my own Jeopardy bio-story.

I’ve been watching Jeopardy since Art Fleming hosted it prior to my high school graduation in 1975. I’ve written several of my own Jeopardy answers over the years. My first game was in 1992 in honor of my parents' 40th wedding anniversary; the answers were all about their married life and Mom won. Fun fact: Mom was a 3-day winner on Concentration (with Host Hugh Downs) when I was in the first grade.

My next game was in the late 1990s with several Art categories that I presented on behalf of the Interurban Center for the Arts in my version of their Projects, Projects class taught to prospective elementary school parent volunteer art docents. Then, in 2005 during my City University Master’s Program, I played Jeopardy Host, Alex Trebek in a version of the game devoted to the subject of Project Management. So, I’ve been part of the game for over 50 years! Maybe I should become a writer for Jeopardy!! Do they even have guest writers?

And the categories are...



For the Video Daily Double


(Name the City)



Monday, July 11, 2022

Avatars, Doppelgangers, and Lookalikes

How They Met Themselves
(1864), Rossetti

One of the few paintings that uses doppelgangers is How They Met Themselves (1864) by English poet and painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. There is some argument over which couple is the unreal pair, although I am guessing the couple on the left because of the glow surrounding them. The fact that the girl on the right is swooning indicates her shock and surprise at seeing their duplicates. However, the other opinion would argue that she is a zombie like that of Boris Karloff's monster. The couple on the right also seem paler by comparison.

Girl with a Pearl Earring
(1665), Johannes Vermeer

Clearly, there has been some spot-on casting of doppelgangers in the movies. For example, the 2003 movie starring Scarlett Johansson as Griet in the Girl with a Pearl Earring. I'm pretty sure that Johannes Vermeer is NOT Colin Firth's double!

She has also been included in several of my other blog posts: Mona Lisa, French & Italian Art Museums, and Masks and other Face Coverings Throughout History, art, TV, and Movies.

Lust for Life (1956)

Kirk Douglas made a perfect Vincent Van Gogh in the 1956 movie Lust for Life. My March 2020 post, Artist Portrayals in Movies – Twelve of My Favorite Biopics also included Andy Garcia as Amedeo Modigliani.

Johnny Depp as
Edward Ratchett

Portrait of Jean Alexandre
(1909), Amedeo Modigliani

Speaking of Modigliani, his 1909 Portrait of Jean Alexandre looks a bit like the victim Edward Ratchett played by actor Johnny Depp in 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express.

The Arnolfini Portrait (1434),
Jan van Eyck

Seen in my August 2020 post, Thing that go Together in Art…, the man resembles Vladimir Putin. I almost didn’t include this likeness for obvious reasons, though there are several others I purposely excluded. Feel free to look them up in the article, Famous People and Their Doppelgängers in Art. on the Daily Art Magazine website.


Turning to baseball players, and specifically the Seattle Mariners, here are two players with somewhat famous doppelgangers. Recently, I caught an episode of a reality show called Catfish TV with host, Nev Schulman. I thought he looked remarkably like Mariners second baseman, Adam Frazier.

Raphael Self-Portrait

Then, I was looking at my post, entitled 10 Artist with April Birthdays, and found that Raphael’s Self-Portrait resembled Mariners Starting Pitcher, Logan Gilbert. Usually Logan is photographed smiling, so it was hard to find a more pensive Gilbert.

Kal Korff

My own doppelgangers were pointed out to me when I was still working. One of my software development colleagues found a much younger picture of Kal Korff, author of Area 51 books, and posted copies all over our office. Fortunately, it was much more flattering than the photo I found and included here.

Terry Fator

Then, I was in line at an espresso stand on my way to work and someone in front of me told the barista that I looked like 2007 AGT winning ventriloquist Terry Fator. I probably should have kept that one to myself because it stuck for many years. At least it replaced the other one!

Costumed Fridas (2017) care of DMA

Check out this article, Over 1,000 Frida Kahlo Lookalikes Gather in Dallas in a Quest for a New Guinness World Record, on Art Net / Art World about the July 2017 celebration of Frida Kahlo's 110th birthday at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). The site also photographs everyday people posing in front of their own doppelgangers captured in museum portraits. I chose this photo because Frida often painted her self-portraits as twins.

With today's popularity of video games and the world of social media it seems that many of us are creating our own avatars to represent us. For a while I had a Bitmoji of myself, then I replaced it with another version that I am using with Facebook Messenger. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Artists' Beards, Mustaches, and Facial Hair

LAA Pitcher, Archie Bradley

I've been noticing the wild and often untamed facial hair of Major League Baseball of late while watching the Seattle Mariners on TV. Pitchers are known to 'paint' the corners of the strike zone. One of the more tamed beards belongs to Los Angeles Angels pitcher, Archie Bradley. It would fall into the category of a Garibaldi beard, after the famous Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi.

LAA Outfielder, Brandon Marsh

LAA Outfielder, Brandon Marsh's is the polar opposite, including more of a Forest Gump look. 

Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk
(Early 1500s), da Vinci

It reminds me of portraits of old masters like Leonardo da Vinci and the statue of Michelangelo's Moses.

Impressionist, Camille Pissarro

M's Pitcher, Sergio Romo

Seattle Mariners pitcher, Sergio Romo's beard is also impressive, reminding me of Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet, though opposite in color, like that of St. Nicholas. Romo's beard would be that of a Garibaldi style if it was less than 8 inches in length.

Autumn (1573), Arcimboldo

Artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Autumn (1573) is a portrait of a man comprised of fruits and vegetables, including a beard made out of wheat.

Self-Portrait with Sunflower (~1633), Van Dyck

The van dyke style of beard popular in the 17th century was named after Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck. Unlike the goatee, a van dyke is often pointed and also includes a mustache. You may remember the actor, Monte Woolley, from the 1942 movie The Man Who Came to Dinner co-starring Bette Davis. He also played an eccentric writer in The Bishop's Wife (1947) opposite David Niven and Cary Grant. Let's not forget General Armstrong Custer and KFC's iconic Colonel Sanders.

Dali Photographic Closeup

Often, it's the mustache that stands out most among the wearers of facial hair. One of the most iconic belongs to Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali. I enjoy teaching about contrast and opposite colors to elementary school students using Dali's Persistence of Memory (1931). He was as eccentric as his unusual paintings, keeping an ocelot as a pet, and focusing on Sigmund Freud and his study of dreams. Perhaps he should have spent more time taming those bushy eyebrows!

Portrait of Joseph Roulin (1889), Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh and other artists painted portraits of men sporting muttonchops. This style of beard often leaves the chin area without hair and the mustache area also shaven. Hugh Jackman's X-Men character, Wolverine sports such a beard sans mustache. Such split beards are known as French forks.

Self Portrait Dedicated to
Dr. Eloesser 
(1940), Frida Kahlo

Another of my favorites is Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, famous for her somewhat unique and iconic unibrow. Nowadays, even men will groom their eyebrows -- some may refer to them as 'metrosexuals'. Back in the day, when men let their beards grow wild, they also let their eyebrows and ear and nose hairs go untrimmed. In my opinion, if you're going to bother to precisely trim a mustache, goatee, or van dyke style beard, then you should also pay attention to those other wild areas. I'll forgive those who grow full beards as long as they occasionally trim them and always keep them void of food remnants!

Kenneth Branagh
David Suchet
Another mustache example is that of Agatha Christie's character, Hercule Poirot. I've been watching reruns of the 1989 TV series starring David Suchet as Poirot. His signature stache looks fake and almost plastic. The more recent Murder on the Orient Express (2017) and Death on the Nile (2022) films, starring Kenneth Branagh as the famous sleuth, created a much more believable, even spectacular, layered mustache, complete with soul patch.

(Apparently, Poirot's stache is meant to cover up scars from lacerations he suffered during a WWI explosion.)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Portraits of Artists' Fathers

Winter 1946 (1946), Andrew Wyeth

Last year, I posted Fathers of Art Movements in honor of Father's Day. This year, I thought I'd research artwork that honors the fathers of famous painters. A good example would be Andrew Wyeth's Winter 1946, a portrait of a young man running aimlessly down a hill, which, following the tragic death of his father, Newell Convers Wyeth (and grandson), became a sort of tribute. The boy may actually represent the artist himself trying to make sense of his father's tragic death.

Portrait of Camille Pissarro
(1893), Lucien Pissarro

I like Lucien Pissarro's rendering of this simple drawing of his father, Camille Pissarro, who is one of my favorite impressionist painters. It may be seen at Tate Britain in London, although I don't recall seeing it during our UK trip in June 2017.

Portrait of Alexander J. Cassatt
and His Son, Robert Kelso Cassatt

(1884), Mary Cassatt

We've all seen the iconic Whistler's Mother, a portrait of the artist's Mother, a subject common to many artists. Its title is actually, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1. More common are paintings of mother and child. French impressionist, Mary Cassatt, painted this portrait of her brother and her nephew. The father is reading a newspaper, offset by the boy's white collar. Their heads and hands stand out from the contrasting black shape of their suits.

The Artist's Father, Reading
Paul Cézanne

The perspective in Paul Cézanne's portrait of his father seems a bit off and his father's body twisted, making him look uncomfortable while reading his newspaper (~The Event). It also looks like the subject is wearing gray stone-washed Levi's.

The Return of the Prodigal Son
(1663 - 1665), Rembrandt

Although there's a category of painting known as Rembrandt's Father, such paintings have NOT been attributed to the artist. Instead, I'm including Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son, which hangs in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. I saw lots of dark portraits when I visited the museum during our Baltics cruise in June 2019. It would have taken days to see everything!

First Steps After Millet (1890), Van Gogh

My daughter recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and saw Van Gogh's Starry Night hanging there. Also on display there is his painting of a child taking its first steps toward the farmer father. It is one of Van Gogh's final paintings inspired by a similar painting by Jean-François Millet.

Brita and me (1895),

I love this watercolor portrait of Swedish artist Carl Larsson and his two-year-old daughter, Brita. It hangs in the National Museum in Stockholm. The colors and expressions indicate the happy childhood of Brita, unlike that of the artist, who himself had a rather contentious relationship with his own father. He and his wife went on to have eight children. Although we visited the Moderna Museet while in port on our Baltic Cruise in June2019, we did not get to see the National Museum

Portrait of My Father (1951), Kahlo

Frida Kahlo painted this portrait of her father, Wilhelm, in 1951. He has the same eyebrow(s) and a marvelous mustache. He was a Hungarian-German artist-photographer.

Escher's Father (1916),
M.C. Escher

Expressionist M. C. Escher produced this portrait of his father in 1916. It looks like a block print. I like the simplicity, probably for the same reason that I liked Pissarro's portrait (above).

Facts of Life (1956), Rockwell

I end this post with a dedication to my father, who in his own right was an artist that inspired all of us boys to explore our talents. Although Norman Rockwell did not pay tribute to his own father, I enjoy his Facts of Life illustration of a father giving advice to his son. Curiously, there is a maternal cameo silhouette hanging on the wall in the top left corner. The pair is also surrounded by what appears to be a mother cat and her kittens. I wonder what this father-son talk is about!