Thursday, December 31, 2009

Playing Card Art

Happy New Year's Eve!

Cards are war, in disguise of a sport.
~ Charles Lamb

Playing cards today. The British Museum has a collection of playing cards printed by the German Monogrammist PW circa 1500. Instead of being divided into hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds, the set is divided into five different groups (roses, columbines, carnations, parrots, hares) and each suite has ten numbers and four figures (king, queen, valet, knave).

The King of Hares

The Nine of Parrots

The Queen of Roses

Jack of Diamonds
by Abigail Kamelhair

Playing Cards by Ukrainian artist Vladislav Erko

Cards of Life and Death

by Kornel Ravadits

(This image has the wrong web site on it -- it is not affiliated with PJLighthouse)

You can read about playing card history at the World of Playing Cards.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Holocaust Survivors

by Tabatha Yeatts

The Holocaust Survivors delves into both the struggles of Holocaust survivors to rebuild their lives after liberation and the complexities of the search for justice. It traces the liberation of the concentration camps through the creation of Israel, survivors building new lives, and ways that the Holocaust is remembered. Also covered are the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi hunters, and Nazi war criminals in the United States, as well as an overview of the Holocaust itself. The Holocaust Survivors discusses the repercussions of this human tragedy and the importance of the lessons that the Holocaust holds for today and the future. It includes a glossary, index, photographs, maps, source notes, further reading, and a chronology.

The Holocaust Survivors was chosen as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People 1999 by the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) in cooperation with The Children's Book Council (CBC).

"Highly recommended."
-- The Book Report

Order a Copy from
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Order a copy from Barnes & Noble
Order a copy from Powell's Books

Friday, December 25, 2009

Winter Lights: Anna Grossnickle Hines

I love quilts, so I got a big kick out of Anna Grossnickle Hines' quilt-illustrated poetry books. She is a persistent and patient woman -- two of the quilts in Winter Lights took 400 hours (each) to make! My hat is off to you, Anna. They are gorgeous.


an icicle grew,
catching the stars
above my window.
in the sunlight

Winter Lights

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This week, Persepolis (located in present-day Iran).

Alexander the Great's troops purposefully wrecked Persepolis. Even after all that damage, isn't it still amazing? It must be inspiring to see in person.

Most of these photos are from a lovely web site called Livius. The photos are by Marco Prins, and Jona Livering wrote the text. She says: Persepolis is the "Greek name of one of the capitals of the ancient Achaemenid empire, founded by king Darius the Great (522-486 BCE), forty-three kilometers downstream from the capital of Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae. It was destroyed in the spring of 330 by Alexander the Great." (A lot of people were "Great" back then, eh?)

More details: "[Alexander the Great] destroyed several palace buildings (not all!) in April, because he was not yet sole ruler of the Persian empire, and it was too dangerous to leave the enormous treasures behind, where his enemies could recapture them. The Palace of Xerxes seems to have received a special treatment, because it was damaged more severely than other buildings; it is likely that the Greek soldiers in Alexander's company had their revenge for the destruction of Athens in 480 BCE."

Ms. Levering again: "The entrance of the Gate of All Nations was protected by mythological creatures called lamassus, bulls with the head of a bearded man. These bull-men originated in Babylonia and Assyria, but the Persians adopted them. The general idea behind them is that they warded off evil."

Lamassus at the Gate of All Nations


~ For more information about Persepolis, visit the Ancient History Encyclopedia
~On a different, but similar, topic: an article about the 2001 Taliban destruction of the 1500 year-old Buddha statues in Balmiyan, Afghanistan. I remember how horrifying this was at the time.
~ A wiki list of lost artworks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

You Are Welcome, Welcome

I obviously have a thing for William Stafford's work, because this is the third time I have turned to his poetry. There's something about the way he put words together.

When You Go Anywhere
by William Stafford

This passport your face (not you
officially, your picture, but the face
used to make the passport) offers
everyone its witness: "This is me."

It feels like only a picture, a passport
forced upon you. Somewhere this oval,
sudden and lasting, appeared. It happened
that you were behind it, like it or not.

You present it--your passport, your face --
wherever you go. It says, "A little country,"
it says "Allow this friendly observer
quiet passage," it says, "Ordinary," it says, "Please."

A link to Wm. Stafford info for teachers


Diane Mayr at Random Noodling posted the last stanza of Paul Laurence Dunbar's Invitation to Love last week for Poetry Friday and I was so taken with it that I decided to post the whole thing here this week. You can also listen to Herbert Martin read it here.

Invitation to Love
by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872-1906

Invitation to Love
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.


Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Susan Taylor Brown.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Bit of Japan

I had a craving for Japanese this week. Most of these are from the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA or The British Museum.

Actor with Umbrella in Snow
By Natori Shunsen

Woodblock Print
By Hiroshi Yoshida

Monkey Performing the Sanbaso Dance scroll painting, 1800, First day of the Monkey year
By Mori Sosen

late 19th century silk painting
By Kishi Chikudo

Horai Rock in Kiso River
By Kawase Hasui

Evening Snow at Kanbara, woodblock print from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
By Ando Hiroshige

~ Japanese Woodblock Print lesson plan
~ A collection of Japanese Art History links
~ A virtual museum of Japanese arts

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Merry Melange

My holiday wish for you


We are getting ready to put up a tree at our house. I love "put up your little arms/and i'll give them all to you to hold/every finger shall have its ring."

little tree
by e. e. cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see       i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look      the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"


Here is a short poem from the outdoor poetry program, Is Reads.

Baby Cheeks
by Brian Foley

Inside the walls of their mouths
hide the potatoes
that keep them from talking.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Containing Multitudes

We have a melange of art for you this week -- quilts, enamel, paintings. Walt Whitman could have been speaking of art when he wrote in Song of Myself, "I am large. I contain multitudes."

Up first, quilts...

Capturing the Eye
By Inge Mardal and Steen Hougs

Love and Was Loved
By Inge Mardal and Steen Hougs

Relative Distance
By Inge Mardal and Steen Hougs

Now, enamel art...

Singer of Africa
By Marianne Hunter

Kabuki Kachina gentles the world
By Marianne Hunter

~ Interested in enamel art? The Art of Fine Enameling talks about these different kinds of projects.
~ An enamel sculpture from The Deceiver and the Deceived series.
~ Fred Ball Enamels
~ William Harper's jewelry
~ An explanation of cloisonne
~ If you want to learn more, check out the Enamelist Society education resources.

And last, but not least, the paintings...

Vieled by War
By Mona El-Bayoumi

Clearing the View for Utopia
By Mona El-Bayoumi

Friday, December 4, 2009

Soft-footed Thief

Riddle #29
The Moon And The Sun
translated from the Old English

I saw a silvery creature scurrying
Home, as lovely and light as heaven
Itself, running with stolen treasure.
Between its horns. It hoped, by deceit
And daring and art, to set an arbor
There in that soaring castle. Then,
A shining creature, known to everyone
On earth, climbed the mountains and cliffs,
Rescued his prize, and drove the wily
Impostor back to darkness. It fled
To the west, swearing revenge. The morning
Dust scattered away, dew
Fell, and the night was gone. And no one
Knew where the soft-footed thief had vanished.

Be An Army of Builders

AAP founder Marie Bullock gave this speech back in 1937 at the Chautauqua Woman's Club, Chautauqua, New York to celebrate the creation of The Academy of American Poets. I'm not including the whole thing, but you can read the complete version here

"I want you to carry this message away with you, close to your hearts, into your worlds, when you go home from Chautauqua.
Let us turn to poetry.

Poetry was originally the reply to a crying need. It answered a practical question. The necessity for news. Minnesingers and troubadours on their long journeyings gave a lilt and a rhythm to their messages that made them easier to remember and to tell. Poetry grew with the times. It became the privilege of princes and courtiers and it sang of heroism and of love in all the royal courts of Europe.

Poetry, besides chronicling beauty, has always painted the most vivid picture of its own times. Romantic or stark with facts, it has been the perfect description of the period it sought to depict or the age in which it was composed. And this is true of all countries and all times.


Why should poets be the only artists to give away their life-work?

It were well to look abroad and see what is being done in other countries today. Besides the facts that I have mentioned in connection with children and the youth of various nations studying poetry in all its forms, there are certain great organizations to consider.

In France, L'Académle Française; in Germany, the Goethe-Haus; in Italy, d'Annunzio's Accademia, and in England, of course, there is the Poet Laureate as well as the Civil List, upon which we may find some of the most outstanding names in English literature, receiving a life annuity. I shall only mention these. You know them all so well.

Besides all this, the poet abroad has a certain aura of honor about him. His name is spoken with awe; he is honored and admired publicly; his books are read and criticized frequently. He is revered and honored in his own country.


Today we are beginning to show an understanding for the needs of poetry in America. We have taken the first step. We have created The Academy of American Poets.


It has two principal purposes: first, to encourage and foster the work of American poets of outstanding merit; second, to discover new poetic genius wherever it may be in the United States.

As the main part of this program, The Academy of American Poets plans to award Fellowships which carry a stipend of five thousand dollars for the term of one year.


This is a national organization, and you carry its message to all corners of our country. Carry it high in your hearts, carry it foremost in your minds.

Through the stress and strain of daily living, ring your own pure note of idealism and love of beauty. Be an army of builders with a goal of construction. Build beauty for yourselves and for your children.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (the Academy of American Poets web site) has, among other things:

~ poems for every occasion
~ poetry audio and video
~ a poetry events calendar
~ a teaching resource center
~ make your own virtual notebook of poems, or check out what other people have put together.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


"No known roof is as beautiful as the skies above."
~ Michael O'Muircheartaigh

I've talked before about how much I love NASA's photos and artist-generated illustrations, but it bears repeating -- they are spectacular!

Thin Blue Line
The thin line of Earth's atmosphere and the setting sun are featured in this image photographed by the crew of the International Space Station while space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 mission was docked with the station.
Image Credit: NASA

The Birth of Stars
The fantastic new camera installed on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope during Servicing Mission 4 in May has delivered the most detailed view of star birth in the graceful, curving arms of the nearby spiral galaxy M83.
The remains of about 60 supernova blasts, the deaths of massive stars, can be seen in the image, five times more than known previously in this region. WFC3 identified the remnants of exploded stars. By studying these remnants, astronomers can better understand the nature of the progenitor stars, which are responsible for the creation and dispersal of most of the galaxy's heavy elements.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), B. Whitmore (Space Telescope Science Institute), M. Dopita (Australian National University), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee.

Noctis Labyrinthus
Layers in the lower portion of two neighboring buttes within the Noctis Labyrinthus formation on Mars are visible in this image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Spring Bloom in New Zealand Waters
Off the east coast of New Zealand, cold rivers of water that have branched off from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flow north past the South Island and converge with warmer waters flowing south past the North Island. The surface waters of this meeting place are New Zealand's most biologically productive. This image of the area on October 25, 2009, from the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows the basis for that productivity: large blooms of plantlike organisms called phytoplankton.
Photo Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response/Jeff Schmaltz. Caption Credit: Rebecca Lindsey, NASA Earth Observatory.

Rollout of STS-128
Rollout of space shuttle Discovery was slow-going due to the onset of lightning in the area of Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Image Credit: Photo Courtesy of Justin Dernier/EPA

Crescent Earth
The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this breathtaking photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during final lunar landing
Image Credit: NASA

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bitter Much?

by John Donne, 1572-1631

GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you celebrating today!
We've got works by artist Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.
I love the expression on her face in this photograph:
Photographed by Annan, c. 1906

She lived from 1864-1933 and was married to architect/designer/artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who said of his wife, "I have talent. She has genius."

Margaret did striking gesso panels. Gesso is a thick, traditionally white fluid made of a mixture of plaster or chalk and glue. It is usually used to prepare a canvas to be painted, but obviously, it has other uses as well.

Cheap Joe's Art Stuff says: "If you are not comfortable with using gesso, then you need to change that. Gesso is so much more than a surface preparation or primer for your paintings. It is a tool for creating some really great art. Did you know that you can mix gesso with paint to create colored gesso for creating tinted grounds? You can also use gesso mixed with paint to cover up mistakes, even big mistakes.
A few coats of gesso can turn even the most mediocre painting surface into a heavenly place to paint. If you enjoy painting on a rough surface, you can add texturing materials to your gesso or paint gesso right over a surface with great big “tooth”. For a smoother surface to create your art on, add several coats. You can even sand your layers once they dry to make a canvas that is like painting on fine porcelain."

"The Four Queens": Queen of Spades, 1909
by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh
from the Hunterian Art Gallery

A detail from Opera of the Sea
by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Artists Dai and Jenny Vaughan create gesso panels inspired by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. Here are two details from their interpretation of Margaret's original gesso panel, "Willow Wood," which is in Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow.

details from Homage to Willow Wood
by Vaughan Art Works

And here's one by Margaret's sister, Frances:

A Paradox, 1905
by Frances Macdonald McNair

~ About "The Four" (Margaret, Rennie, Margaret's sister Frances and her husband Herbert McNair)
~ Rennie Mackintosh Society article about gesso.
~ BBC article about a work by Margaret that brought a record price for Scottish art.
~ Two recipes for making gesso

Friday, November 20, 2009

Andrei Codrescu: When

By Andrei Codrescu

Once upon a time when there was no time,
when no one had any need for time because there was plenty of it,
when time was an idea whose time hadn't come,
when the pear tree produced peaches or toy trucks,
when fleas jumped into the sky wearing very heavy shoes,
when everybody ate what they cooked and scientists were always sick
because they had to eat bombs,
when dogs and cats were on the best of terms
and men and women never fought pitched battles
under the pitched tent, when children never took baths because they were always swimming,
there lived a very old storyteller
in a village high in the mountains
who told a very long story
day and night.
No one knew when he had begun telling this story
because he was always telling it
and you could drop by his house and listen to some of it
and then come back when you were old yourself
and listen to some more of it.
When I heard him the story hadn't even begun because he was
still busy telling when the story began.
Maybe, one day, we should drop in on him and listen some more,
maybe he has begun.
We will, okay, one day, when we have the time.

Posted with permission from Mr. Codrescu. This poem is in Wonders: Writings and Drawings for the Child in Us All, edited by Jonathan Cott and Mary Gimbel, 1980.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Take A Second Look

Fabulous book-inspired art from Quint Buchholz, based in Munich, Germany:

Eines Morgens im November
by Quint Buchholz

by Quint Buchholz

Mann auf einer Leiter
by Quint Buchholz

I have to revisit Gustave Dore every once in a while. I would like to see this life-sized:
Don Quixote Relives His Past Glories
by Gustave Dore

David Nittmann practices the fine art of "woodturning." Yes, these are made of wood!

The Mer-Ka-Ba Bifurcation
by David Nittmann

A Single Twist of Fate
by by David Nittmann

Random links:
~ Go on a tour of beautiful libraries with Curious Expeditions.
~ Paper engineer Marshall Alexander offers free paper toy printables.
~ I love Joseph Holston's colors.
~ Washington D.C. had a "Mural Jam" last summer. The result is Wow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Treasury for Your Past

Poetry by Alice Meynell, 1847-1922.

The Rainy Summer
by Alice Meynell

There’s much afoot in heaven and earth this year;
  The winds hunt up the sun, hunt up the moon,
Trouble the dubious dawn, hasten the drear
  Height of a threatening noon.

No breath of boughs, no breath of leaves, of fronds,
  May linger or grow warm; the trees are loud;
The forest, rooted, tosses in her bonds,
  And strains against the cloud.

No scents may pause within the garden-fold;
  The rifled flowers are cold as ocean-shells;

Bees, humming in the storm, carry their cold
  Wild honey to cold cells.

Drawing of Alice Meynell by John Singer Sargent


from Singers to Come
by Alice Meynell

Singers to come, what thoughts will start
  To song? What words of yours be sent
  Through man’s soul, and with earth be blent?
These worlds of nature and the heart
  Await you like an instrument.

Who knows what musical flocks of words
  Upon these pine-tree tops will light,
  And crown these towers in circling flight,
And cross these seas like summer birds,
  And give a voice to the day and night?

Something of you already is ours;
  Some mystic part of you belongs
  To us whose dreams your future throngs,
Who look on hills, and trees, and flowers,
  Which will mean so much in your songs.


Your Own Fair Youth
by Alice Meynell

Your own fair youth, you care so little for it—
  Smiling towards Heaven, you would not stay the advances
  Of time and change upon your happiest fancies.
I keep your golden hour, and will restore it.

If ever, in time to come, you would explore it—
  Your old self, whose thoughts went like last year’s pansies,
  Look unto me; no mirror keeps its glances;
In my unfailing praises now I store it.

To guard all joys of yours from Time’s estranging,
  I shall be then a treasury where your gay,
    Happy, and pensive past unaltered is.

I shall be then a garden charmed from changing,
  In which your June has never passed away.
    Walk there awhile among my memories.


The Essays of Alice Meynell

More info about Ms. Meynell, including her poems, essays, and biography