CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

Thursday Special Pick a Word

These are the words for Lost in Translation‘s October occasional Pick a Word photo challenge. We are free to choose any or all of the words. I chose them all.

LUNAR

Moon over water, pastel sketch

VOLTE FACE

About face!

SOARING

REPOSING

Cat in repose (cats are good at reposing!)

IMPREGNABLE

It was impregnable in the Middle Ages, perhaps!

On the Hunt for Joy: Collections

I’ve missed a few of these lately, but I’m back in the game now. In Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy challenge, the subject this week is collections.

I have a lot of collections, most on display. Unfortunately, I don’t want to part with any of this stuff so I’ve had to figure out how to fit them in around our much smaller house!

I have a huge collection of refrigerator magnets from around the world. Why? Because they’re cheap, don’t take up much luggage space, and they make good souvenirs. I keep most of them! These are on the side of one filing cabinet but I have many more (that are holding papers on the actual refrigerator!) not shown here.20200312_231139
I keep my cat collection on two shelves – most of them are here. I acquired some of them abroad and others from my mother. On the far left is a bead and wire lion that I bought in a village in Tanzania. In front is my alebrije cat from Mexico (more on them below). Next to that, the tall one you can’t see very well is an Egyptian cat. In the back on the left is a ceramic Manx cat my mother bought me, and the blue & white one on the right was hers.
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I put my cheetahs on a top shelf, peeking out at our living room. (The small one my son made in school, so I display it as the mother’s cub.)
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I actually have more cats scattered around – one made of cement in front of the fireplace and another made of papier-machê, as well as framed artwork.

As you can tell already, I like ethnic stuff – things I buy in other countries or other cultures. My newest collection is Navajo kachinas, hand made and in different sizes. Each represents a character in Navajo mythology. They are quite expensive, and I treasure them because for many years, I wanted to collect kachinas but couldn’t afford them!
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Alebrijes are brightly painted carved wooden figures from Oaxaca, Mexico. You can find these even in some international stores here, but all these I purchased in a village in Oaxaca that specializes in these little figurines made from a soft wood called copal. The large one, an otter, was specially made for me and brought to my hotel when it was finished. The cat’s and armadillo’s tails come out – they’re separate pieces, and so are the quills of the porcupine. (My real cat was curious about what I was doing!)
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I happened to get a collection of birds, quite unintentionally, but they are all quite nice. The loons and the largest bird were my mother’s. She loved birds. The others are from Mexico. The two black birds on the front left are actually whistles! They were also made in Oaxaca, Mexico, out of black pottery, another craft Oaxaca is famous for.
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Books! So many books, so little time… I managed to narrow my books down to mostly two bookshelves – I had four full shelves of books in our old house!

I have several coloring books and often work on them while “watching” the news. Most of the ones I’ve done lately are mandalas and flowers.20200312_234657
Finally, these are some of my drawings and paintings. I’m not sure I’d call them a “collection” but I suppose they are. I hope to frame some of them to hang on the walls.

Last and First Photos

Bushboys World has a new challenge, to post the last photo taken in January. I actually haven’t taken any ‘real’ photos the last several days, just my artwork. So here’s the last photo I snapped of a drawing I did on Wednesday. I am practicing drawing portraits. This is of a little girl named Zia that we met in Luxor, Egypt in Dec. 2018.
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After that, the next photo I took was today, of my son’s new (used) car. He bought this car from a friend a couple of months ago. It was the most expensive car he’s ever purchased, the newest (2017) and the first time he’s bought a Kia. Since he is away for awhile, we drove his car to our daughter’s house and parked it on the lawn. It isn’t safe to leave a car on a street in Chicago for more than a couple of weeks – someone might consider it abandoned! Either that, or someone will try to steal it. So here it sits in the suburbs, until he returns to drive it back home!
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The Changing Seasons, Jan. 2020

A NEW CHALLENGE! Here’s what the host, Su Leslie, has to say about it:

“About The Changing Seasons
The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.
If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:
The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):
Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.”

Here is my contribution for January 2020:

Family and friends: 
Left: Colorful family members – my brother-in-law in lederhosen and my grand-nephew (we were at his house to celebrate his 18th birthday) in a flamingo suit we bought him last year; Right: Friends we rarely get to see nowadays, at dinner in a restaurant called Nando’s, which features Afro-Portuguese and South African cuisine.

Cats:
Top L: our cat, Hazel; Top R and Bottom: Two of our four “grandcats” (our daughter’s cats), Freddie (being held unwillingly by our daughter) and Stevie.

Home:
Our senior living community as it looks in this relatively warm January 2020: At right is my car during the only major snowfall we’ve had this month (which is very unusual, but we have had brutally cold as well as mild Januarys these past several years – none has been just “average”, I guess a result of climate change. I’ll take the mild winters any time, though!).

My artwork:
I love to draw and am taking an art class, which has inspired me to renew my artistic output! For the leopard cub I used a special technique, using dark Sharpies so it bled through the paper, then used the back side to color in with pastels. At right is a portrait I did in art class. We are focusing on portraiture this session.

SYW: Adjusting, Resolving, and Following My Passions

NEW YEAR’S THEMED QUESTIONS:
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What was the single best thing that happened in your life this past year?
Moving to a senior community – I have been participating in many new enjoyable activities and making new friends! Everyone here is very friendly. I love our little house – two bedrooms, no stairs, everything easy to access. Our washer/dryer are in a closet off the kitchen so I only have to carry laundry a short distance (and no stairs!) and also, everything is new and modern. If anything malfunctions, we call maintenance and they take care of it! We have a screened porch, which we didn’t before and I am looking forward to having a garden!

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The back of our new house!

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Our community’s resident swans and ducks

The most challenging?
Moving to a senior community – the move itself/downsizing, and getting used to a new way of life. I’m one of the youngest people here so that’s an adjustment for me, too. I used to live near downtown Des Plaines and could walk everywhere – now I have to drive to go anywhere off campus. Regulating what I eat is harder because we eat in the dining room, so I have less control and there is more temptation – I’m struggling to lose weight.

One thing you learned in 2019?
That I like eggplant if it’s prepared Middle Eastern style (in a tomato base)!

Given all your experiences, insights, and lessons learned in 2019, what’s the best advice you could give yourself for 2020?
Follow my passions and don’t worry about pleasing others. Exercise self-control in my eating habits. Do what is best for my mental and physical health.

What’s the best meal/food you ate in 2019?
Middle Eastern food! In both Egypt and Israel, there were lots of delicious things to eat!

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Jerusalem bread vendor

What are three activities you plan to use in the coming year to relieve stress?
1. Be a hands-off parent but communicate my wishes to my kids, who are adults. (i.e. Don’t give advice unless asked and then don’t react if they don’t take it; let them know what you expect of them, and expect them to be able to figure stuff out.)
2. Exercise more regularly.
3. Draw.


Gratitude Question:
What brought you the most joy and are you going to do more of that?
Traveling abroad and yes, I hope to, if we can afford it!

Lastly – Any resolutions you’d care to share?
I did – the three activities I wrote above.

Share Your World, 12/30/19

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CFFC: Pastel Colors

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with her color series – this week it is pastel colors.

Some flowers are bright, while others have muted colors. Most marigolds are bright, but these are soft yellow and white.
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Dahlias come in all colors – some are bright, some are light.
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Wilted orchid

Artists experiment with all kinds of color schemes. These are some pastel colors in artwork.

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“Hazel” (2019) in pastels – artist is yours truly!

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A recent exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute featured drawings by 17th century Dutch masters. This pair is “A Portrait of a Man” and “A Portrait of a Woman” by Jan de Bray (1650) – black & red chalk on ivory laid paper.

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Edouard Manet “Vase of White Lilacs and Roses” (1883) – oil on canvas

Pastels in sculptures

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Fish sculpture, Poulsbo, WA

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Chinese Reconciliation Park, Tacoma, WA

Pastel buildings – Passau, Germany
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Baroque stucco roof

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Carved block from a church

 

 

October Squares: White Lines on Black

After a short hiatus from this challenge, I am back for another contribution to Becky’s October Square: Lines & Squares photo challenge.

Today in my art class, we worked on shadows and “negative spaces” in drawing. These are my best efforts, with my favorite being the square photo. I drew these on black construction paper with white chalk and a little contrasting with a black pastel pencil, mainly on the second one. This was a lesson in creating an image in lines and contrast. What is merely suggested the viewer creates, filling in the rest of the picture in her mind.
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Life Lines

For Becky’s October Square (lines & squares) and Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge: hands, I decided to take a look at the lines on my palm.
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Analyzing these lines is called “palmistry” and while I consider this to be superstition, much like astrology, it still somehow interests me. I guess it has to do with the human desire to predict the future, which cannot be done with any certainty, so we resort to such things as palmistry and astrology to tell us what will happen in our future or something about our personality.

I was most interested in my “life” line and my “fate” line. The life line is the one that is closest to the thumb and curves downward. Here’s what one web site had to say about it:
Is strong and deep: You have a lust for life and you strive to reach your full potential.
Is shallow and faint: You tend to be less ambitious.
Is curved: You are strong.
Is straight: You are cautious when you enter a new relationship.
Is broken: You have experienced a sudden change in lifestyle.
Has circles: You have been hospitalized or injured.
Isn’t alone and you have multiple life lines: You are a very lively person.
My life line is definitely curved, so I am strong. It is pretty strong and deep, so I have a lust for life and strive to reach my full potential.  Physically, I’m not very strong. But I have endured a lot in life (even though I’ve been pretty lucky, too), so I guess by that standard, I am strong. I do have a lust for life and I sometimes strive to reach my full potential, but on the other hand (no pun intended), I have ADHD so I get distracted and never seem to finish what I start.

I won’t bore you with what my “fate” line or other lines say. You can analyze your own, if you wish, by looking up “palmistry” or simply “lines on palms.” The web site I looked at was the kind of thing people share on Facebook.

But these are photo challenges, so getting back to images… One of the things I love to do with my dominant hand is to draw. Here are two sketches of hands that I drew several years ago:

I don’t have photos that are particularly focused on hands, but I do have several of people holding children and one can get a good look at the holders’ hands.

Finally, here is a newlywed couple whose hands combine to cut their wedding cake.
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One final opinion: I like astrology better than palmistry!