Looking at Art

A quote to make you think…..

I really enjoy and follow a fellow writer named Jeff Goins on social media. He just posted a quote on Facebook and I really wanted to put it out here for my reader’s to ponder.

“There’s nothing more intoxicating than creating something from nothing. Creating something from yourself.” ― Rainbow Rowell

I was wondering what you think about this…

  • Is art intoxicating?
  • Is it addicting?
  • Is art a form of addiction?
  • Are we as a society addicted to creating or do you believe people are moving away from this? It’s an interesting idea to consider since we have mass production and consumerism society now. Are we buying products instead of making them ourselves or even finding someone local to make it for us? 

This also makes me think about a Facebook post another local artist I follow made this morning. She is having trouble with her artwork being posted on Pinterest. This doesn’t sound like much of a problem except they are removing her name from the piece of art and instead it is being attributed to different people. What about copyright laws and our ability to protect our artwork from being stolen?



I am still here…..

Hi everyone,

I know you must all feel abandoned and I want to say I am sorry for that. That has never been my intention. I am not going to sit here and lie nor am I going to make excuses. So instead I am going to be honest….I was dedicating a lot of time to starting my blog and I just couldn’t keep up that momentum. So I came here and wrote that I was going to write less frequently which sounded great in theory; but instead it became an excuse. I could just do it later…..and later never materialized. I also have a lot of things going on in my personal life that have taken priority as well as have taken a lot of my time and energy. As you can imagine as I have been busy that I haven’t felt creative or inspired either. This is probably the #1 reason why I was avoiding posting here. I just wasn’t feeling passionate about art. I have to recognize its okay not to feel this huge surge of passion. Sometimes its okay to just like it or love it. Sometimes its okay to just allow myself to create my own inspiration and creativity through my love and understanding of art.

I am going to include a love photo of my newly transplanted rhododendrons…..I know it isn’t art per say but the beautiful color of the flowers is nature inspiring real life.



Have you missed me?

Because I have missed you…..yet again I had the best of intentions and life got in the way and I just wasn’t able to have enough time to write proper posts here on my blog. I refuse to short change my posts on my blog which I have developed a passion for. I love coming here to write….to truly express myself. To inspire myself….to communicate about my passion and my love for art. Art has the power to move people. To create an emotional response. Art should help make us feel….we should find a connection between us as the viewer, the art, and the artist who created it. However, I am recognizing that when I began this blog I thought I needed to post daily (I set up myself with a strict schedule) and the reality is I just can’t keep up at that pace. So I have decided to cut myself a much-needed break and recognize I can’t keep up this pace. So instead of posting 7 posts weekly; my new goal will be 3-4 posts a week. I will vary my posts to discuss many of the same topics as I have been covering. Thanks for understanding…..this blog truly is a work in progress as I learn how to be a blogger.

Art Critiques

The final piece….Judgment

Sunday: Developing an Artistic Eye and How-to Critiques

The fourth and final piece of art critiques and criticism is Judgment.

Judging a piece of artwork means giving it rank in relation to other works. It is also about considering a very important aspect of the visual arts; its originality.

This is a more personal piece based on your own understanding of the work.

Although at its simplest point this means…..Do you like or dislike this artwork? I always include that this must be accompanied with an explanation of why (reasons) and evidence supporting it.

Consider a few questions:

  • Is it a good piece of art?
  • Is it successful?
  • What is the value you find in this artwork? Is it merely aesthetically pleasing or is there a social message, reaffirms religious beliefs, affect your world view, or helps you to make insightful connections?
  • Does it have benefits for others?
  • Does the work communicate an idea or feeling that would have value for others?
  • Is the work unappealing, repulsive, or unimaginative?
  • Would you display this piece of art in your home?
  • Would it be displayed in a museum?
  • Do you think it is an important artwork?
  • Consider design elements, principles, and qualities?
  • How does the realism or lack therefore of affect the work?
  • Is the artwork well-organized?

This use to be my least favorite part of the criticism process but breaking it down and using these guiding questions help simplify the act of judgment. For me the keys are determining whether the artwork is successful and its value, as well as whether the art is well-organized. I think the idea of whether you would display it in your own home can really help you solidify whether you like or dislike it? It also might not go style-wise with your decor or the size might not work.

Let’s consider Negro In The Suburbs, painted in 1967 by Norman Rockwell.

Negro In The Suburbs, painted in 1967. This painting shows a black family moving into a white neighborhood. He uses iconic middle-class America symbols such as baseball and a dog to showcase this as a normal community.


I think it’s a successful piece of artwork because the work is well-organized which makes it visually appealing. The painting is well-balanced both left and right as well as top to bottom. The use of iconic symbols such as the baseball, dog, the yellow car, and the row of houses showcases this as an ordinary community. The row of similar houses demonstrates Rockwell’s ability to create a sense of a middle-class American neighborhood that could exist anywhere in the United States. Rockwell was well-known for being an advocate for social and civic issues such as race. This painting has a strong social message (value) about letting go of our racism and recognizing that everyone can live in the same neighborhood and get along. People didn’t have to be fearful about their kids playing with kids of other races. I would definitely display this piece of art in my home. It is a successful piece of artwork that remains relevant in the current political and social climate within the United States. Race continues to be a relevant issue 50 years after this painting was created.


Art Criticism and Formal Analysis

Artistic Criticism

Art Criticism Process

Four Step Art Critique

Home Decor, DIY, Interior Design

Choosing color combinations for your rooms

Saturday: Home Decor and DIY Projects

How do you choose color combinations for your rooms?

Have you ever stood in the paint aisle at your home hardware store staring at the hundreds of paint chips? How do you choose the right paint color? Designing a color scheme that works is crucial. Creating an interesting room (a room that visually looks good and also functions) involves a variety of design techniques. Designing a room is much like putting together an outfit. Consider how to mix color, pattern, texture, and shine or sheen to create visual interest.

So a few things to consider:

  • Starting points for basic color choices: What color is your window frames and trim? What color is your baseboards, crown molding, door trim? What color is your ceiling?
  • Consider the color of your window treatments such as blinds. What color, pattern, and texture will you add with curtains?
  • Think about your light fixtures? Are your fixtures a metallic finish such as oil rubbed bronze, bronze, gold, chrome, or platinum? Or are they black or white finished?
  • Consider what color your more permanent features will be such as tile on the fireplace, backsplash, or a shower space, flooring (whether it is tile, vinyl, laminate, hardwood, or carpet), or a kitchen countertop or cabinet color.
  • Then start considering furniture pieces.
  • Also examine sight lines. Can you see your dining room from your living room space? Do the colors clash or look good together?

When thinking about color combinations how do you determine if colors look good together? I think the easiest way is to consider colors that go together in nature. Nature gives you a color palette to pull from.

Ride the Wave: Consider a range of blues (some with tints of green) to create an ocean inspired color palette.

Range of blues

Garden-Fresh: Next up is a garden fresh color palette. It starts with a green apple color and it is complemented by varying shades of soft green, yellow, and white (inspiration from the tulip petals).

Garden fresh

Orange Crush: For a brighter fun space look at orange and corals which shows up as beautiful garden flowers. For high impact and contrast add in some bright blue accents.


Earthly Delights: You can create an earthy color scheme using softer shades of putty, tan, taupe, and amber with hits of a brighter terra-cotta create a calming color palette that talks to a desert landscape.

Soft warm color palette

Shifting Neutrals: As a contrasting color scheme to the warmth and richness of wood tones (such as stained floors or cabinetry) think about the interesting shades in stonework and rocks. It’s an interesting mix of cool and warmer tones.

Tones from stones

Purple Power: What about a more wild and crazy color scheme that would look good in a little girl’s room. Try fun, bright shades of purple such as orchids, fuchsias, and hibiscus.

Purple power

Wake-up Call: A range of shades of yellow speak to waking up and brighten a space such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Mellow Yellow

Garden Fun: Here’s a true nature or garden inspired paint palette filled with green of moss, leaves, flower stems, and blue from the sky. Colors will range from citron, olive, aloe, and clover.


Harmony of Herbs: Shades of mint, aloe, spearmint, and herb inspired shades create a light and soft color palette.


Juicy Citrus: As soft and light as the previous herbal color scheme; juicy citrus is a creative bright color palette that would work in a room with great light and energy such as an office.




Better Homes and Gardens

Artist Profile

Vincent Van Gogh

Friday is Artist Profile Day!

Let’s meet Vincent Van Gogh

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Self-portrait with straw hat, 1887

Born: 1853 in the Netherlands

Died: 1890 in France (age 38) from a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Where they lived: Van Gogh moved from the Netherlands to England and Belgium.

Family: His father was a minister and his mother was an artist. His parent’s first son also Vincent was stillborn. He has 3 younger sisters and 2 younger brothers. At the age of 15, due to financial difficulties he had to leave school to go to work. He worked at an art dealership. He was fluent in Dutch, English, French, and German.

Background: In 1873, he transferred to a gallery in London in which he fell in love with the culture. He also fell in love with his landlady’s daughter, Eugenie Loyer. After she rejected his marriage proposal, Van Gogh suffered a breakdown. He began to devote his life to God and tried to become a minister in both Amsterdam and Belgium but was rejected.

Professional background/training: Van Gogh had almost no professional training as an artist. He took lessons on his own and studied books by Charles Bargue. He believed to be a great painter you must first master drawing. He studied with Picasso, Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others while living in Paris.

Japanese artwork also influenced him. He was unable to afford to travel there but Lautrec convinced him to travel to Arles in the south of France. He spent his money on paint rather than food (coffee, bread, and absinthe) which caused him to feel sick. Not only was he physically sick but his mental health was declining as he had been eating painting and sipping on turpentine. Theo was concerned and paid Charles Gauguin to watch over Vincent. They began to argue and on that fateful night, Vincent was seen with a razor. He paid for a prostitute named Rachel at a brothel and he gave her his ear that he had cut off. He was found the next day by the police and admitted to the Hôtel-Dieu hospital. Theo came to visit him and found him weak from blood loss and suffering violent seizures. He survived this ordeal and was released a few weeks later but he was alone and depressed and was hospitalized again. The people of Arles signed a petition that he was violent so he was sent to Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where he began to paint the hospital gardens.

Art Genre: Post-impressionist

Art medium used: Oil paint and watercolors (symbolic and bold use of color). He used chalk, pencil, reed pen, and charcoal for drawing (often mixed mediums).

Subject Matters: Landscapes, Portraits, Cityscapes, and Flowers/Blossoms

Famous Artwork:  Potato Eaters, Irises, Starry Nights, The Yellow House

Other Information: Struggled with mental illness throughout his life (self-destructive). He remained poor and relatively unknown throughout his lifetime. His instability becomes the romantic image of a tortured artist.

He had a catastrophic love life. His cousin Kate, a recent widow who was repulsed by him. He then fell in love with Clasina Maria Hoornik who was an alcoholic prostitute.

His brother Theo often supported Vincent financially and tried selling Vincent’s artwork. Van Gogh moved to Paris and showed up at his apartment uninvited.

His artwork helped with his emotional stability.

After he moved to Paris, his artwork was influenced and greatly changed by the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. Lighter color palette, broken brush strokes used by the Impressionists and he attempted the pointillist technique of the Neo-Impressionists.

In January 1890, he moved to Auvres (north of Paris) to become a patient of Dr. Paul Gachet. On July 27th, he went out to paint and took a loaded pistol. He shot himself in the chest but this wound did not kill him immediately. He died two days later in his brother’s arms at home. Theo who suffered from syphilis and was weakened by his brother’s tragic death; he also suffered a mental breakdown and died six months later in a Dutch asylum. Theo’s wife, Johanna was a dedicated supporter of Vincent’s artwork and reburied Theo’s body next to Vincent’s. She also collected as many of his pieces of art as she could even though the boy’s mother had thrown away crates of his work.


His fame grew after a show in Paris in 1901.

He completed more than 2100 works including 860 oil paintings and more than 1300 watercolors, sketches, and drawings.

Irises sold for a record $53.9 million. Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82.5 million.

Portrait of Dr Gachet, 1890

Personal Opinion: I have always been drawn to the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh. In particular I love Café Terrace At Night and his multiple flower and garden paintings such as Irises. His use of color has always helped draw me in to his art.

I struggle with my personal feelings towards Van Gogh; I feel sorry for him. He never knew his own fame. He struggled financially his entire life and now his art is worth millions of dollars each. His struggles with mental illness destroyed his life; however did it help his creativity? Did his mental illness lead to his artistic genius or vice versa? Did his art cause him to go mad? How prolific would he have been if he hadn’t committed suicide at such a young age? Was it his life circumstances? What about his difficult relationships with women throughout his life?


Vincent Van Gogh Biography

Van Gogh Museum

The Story of Van Gogh

Van Gogh Gallery

Style and Technique of Van Gogh

Looking at Art

Thursday: Look at Art

Thursday’s Look at Art

Today is our first real taste of summer here on the East Coast of Canada and I am going to tell you the truth; I spent a lot of time outside today planting 12 containers of flowers (annuals). Specifically, marigolds, petunias, impatiens, and my personal favorite pansies.

I took pictures of my flowers today and although not specifically artwork, I think there is nothing more beautiful than fresh flowers. While spending a lot of time outside today; I got to listen to the birds, enjoyed the smell of the flowers and fresh air, and the heat and sun. Just look at the gorgeous shades on all the flowers. Nature comes in amazing colors.


Art Terminology, Looking at Art

Wednesday: Taking Time to Chat about Art

Wednesday: Time to Chat about Art

I have been thinking a lot about making art more approachable and accessible to the masses.

How do people gain exposure to art? 

Where do people get to see and experience art?

How do we interact with art?

The truth is we are surrounded by art. Sometimes we don’t even notice it and other times we choose to interact with it. Have you ever noticed the art hanging in your office, doctor, or dentist office? What about your favorite local restaurant? Do you walk by these pieces time and time again or do you stop to look at them? This speaks to our ability to interact with art in an everyday setting. I often hear people saying, “I am not an art critic”; you don’t have to be an art critic to enjoy a piece of art or even appreciate the work. You don’t even have to like it. We all have personal tastes. We all have likes and dislikes.

We can visit an art museum or gallery. Local artists will often have studios that you can visit and there’s nothing like buying local. Check out if your city or community has an art school or a local group of artists. Look at local farmer’s markets. You never know what you might find at a yard sale or estate sale. My local library showcases monthly art displays of local artists; which I love to look at while choosing my newest book to read.

What about the art you choose to hang within your own house? How did you choose your own family’s artwork? Is it art made by your kids? Is it art you made yourself? Do you surround yourself with family photos?

If you are a crafty or artistic person you can design and create your own artwork. If you are a DIY’er than you can probably make some art pieces for your house….remember to check out Pinterest for ideas. Think outside the box….put a frame around a photograph (try blowing up a picture of a flower or leaf for a graphic punch of color) or even a picture your kids drew and it automatically looks professional. I am a firm believer the frames don’t even have to match…. I love when all the frames at least within a room are the same color but differing styles can add a lot of visual interest and creates a unique style.

Frame unique or items from your past (such as a scarf or tablecloth from a vacation). I lived in a First Nations community and framed mementos from my time spent up there such as a couple dream-catchers and a pair of moccasins. Grab a calendar that you love and frame the photos from it. Or an old book or magazine. Look at stencils, painting a wall or a piece of wood with chalkboard paint, wall decals, stencils, or stenciling words on a canvas. Old farm signs are a great accent for a rustic country look.

Then there are also the mass production artwork that can be found at any number of local department stores. These range from reproductions of famous pieces to landscapes to portraits to abstract pieces. You can also order posters (reproductions) or pieces of artwork online.

Art really is about thinking outside the box…..finding items or pieces that work individually and collective and that speak to you on a personal level. Choosing artwork is a very personal decision. Find pieces that speak to you and your family. Locate artwork that is personal and connects to your life and your interests. You can use pieces that work with your design style.



Architecture Tuesday: Exterior House Styles

Architecture Tuesday: Exterior House Styles

Today we will briefly look at the styles of Craftsman, Tudor, and Victorian houses.

  1. Craftsman
  • Born out of the Arts and Crafts movement.
  • There is an emphasis on natural materials such as stone, wood, and brick.

Key Features:

  • Wide front porches.
  • Tapered square columns or porch posts.
  • Low-pitched roofs.
  • Wide eave overhangs.
  • Interiors include: woodwork such as built-in furniture, exposed beams, and large fireplaces.

  1. Tudor
  • Originated in England.
  • One of the most recognizable house styles.
  • Built in established neighborhoods in the early 20th

Key Features:

  • Steeply pitched, multi-gabled roofs.
  • Decorative half-timber construction.
  • Tall narrow windows. Small transom windows.
  • Stone, stucco, and wood on the outside.
  • Simple arched doorways.
  • Stained glass windows.

  1. Victorian
  • Emerged in 1830 to 1910 during the reign of Queen Victoria.
  • There are a variety of sub-styles that have appeared as well.
  • They were constructed more for beauty than functionality.
  • They have a romantic and distinctive appearance.

Key Features:

  • Complex in design and include ornate trim and moldings (gingerbread trim) and bright colors.
  • Large porches.
  • Asymmetrical shape. The house is not centered nor will both sides match.
  • Multi-faceted roof lines.
  • May include a variety of window styles.
  • May have a window bench.
  • Crow’s nest or balcony.
  • Turrets and towers.
  • Gables.
  • Columns.
  • Scroll work.
  • Patterned shingles.


Popular Architectural Styles

House styles

Looking at Art

Monday: Let’s Look at Art….. “Pink Peach Tree in Blossom, 1888” by Vincent Van Gogh (2 versions)

Monday: Let’s Look at Art

Peach Trees in Blossom, 1888 by Van Gogh
Pink Peach Tree in Blossom (Reminiscence of Mauve), 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Background: Vincent’s sister sent him a tribute from Anton Mauve, a Dutch painter who was his first teacher and an uncle by marriage; who had recently passed away. He was so moved by this experience that he decided to paint this particular piece to send to Mauve’s widow. So he wrote to his brother, Theo and asked that he send it to her on their behalf.

He created it by painting en plein air and in one session. It was created in Arles France.

Vincent created many paintings of the fruit orchards during his first few weeks in France. There are a few similarly done works of art with slightly different names. One is referred to as Pink Peach Tree in Blossom (Reminiscence of Mauve) and the second is Peach Trees in Blossom.

He called these some of his best landscapes he had done.

He completed 200 paintings in 15 months while in Arles. Van Gogh had planned to organize the series of orchard paintings into groups of 3.

Influenced by: He was inspired by the trees and the renewal of the spring blossoms. He was struggling mentally during this time period (he commits suicide in 1890). After living  with his brother in Paris, Van Gogh moved to the south of France due to a strained relationship with his brother and his poor health.

Art Movement or Genre: Post-Impressionist landscape

Medium: Oil on canvas

Discussion of subject matter: The original tree had peach blossoms that were pink but due to discoloration they have turned white over-time.

I love both versions of this painting. The use of softer colors creates the sense of spring time. It speaks to the freshness of spring air. I can practically smell the peach blossoms through the canvas. Van Gogh creates an emotional response through his simplicity. The fence in the background creates a sense of space within the orchard.  The tree is his focus and is in the center (it takes up a significant space on the canvas). He does include some smaller trees in the background but they are quickly sketched and added with no real detail added to them. Even the grass appears to be quickly added with fast brush strokes.

The painting entitled Pink Peach Tree in Blossom (Reminiscence of Mauve) has brighter richer paint tones (introduces more red/pink tones); whereas the other piece of work, Peach Trees in Blossom, 1888 uses a much more muted tones with a significant amount of white.


Van Gogh

Van Gogh Museum

Wiki Art

The World According to Art

The pink peach tree