Category Archives: Art

Mickey Mousing All Those Nice Characters

More from The Private World of Tasha Tudor:

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My education, such as it was, revolved around books.  Aunt Gwen read aloud to us as only she could until ten or eleven every night, and then we went to school at eight the next morning, but it didn’t seem to affect us.  She read us all of Scott and Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Conan Doyle.  I was conversant with Huckleberry Finn and The Mysterious Stranger from the age of seven.

Of course we were brought up on Beatrix Potter, and I loved The Wind in the Willows.  That was one of my father’s favorite books.  Walt Disney should be sued for cheapening it as he did.  Imagine it, Mickey Mousing all those nice characters.  I’m surprised he didn’t do it with the New Testament.

There are certain books that you enjoy as a child, but when you read them again as an adult you find there’s nothing to them.  But then there are others that you get just as much pleasure out of: Gulliver’s Travels, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, Robinson Crusoe, and especially Moby-Dick.  That book has been ruined by teachers!  The pictures it creates in your mind you never forget.  You can even smell the food of the inn in the opening chapter.  When I read a story, I see it like a movie, moving and all in color.  Books are very real to me.  I greatly admire Emily Dickinson, who said, “There is no Frigate like a Book/To take us Lands away.”

I still haven’t read Moby-Dick, and I never before heard of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys beautiful things, whether they are ideas or physical objects.  It is more of a browsing, than a read through sort of book, more than half of the 129 pages are photographs, and many pages have a Tudor illustration.

Tasha Tudor and Old-Fashioned Flowers

One of my friends recently bought me a book that she said “I knew you would like”, and she was right.  It is about Tasha Tudor, who I first knew as a children’s book illustrator.  Here is a timeline of her life and art.  I have at least one of the books she enriched with her whimsical art, A Child’s Garden of Verses, printed the year I was born.

The book I received, The Private World of Tasha Tudor, has some beautiful photographs taken of her and her home environment.  Apparently Tudor spent most of her life living simply, very much in the Victorian style and manner, a time period that has always fascinated me, especially the clothing, textile arts, and culture.

From the book (both the picture of foxglove and the commentary):IMG_2563.jpg

Because I gardened as a little girl and my mother and grandmother were passionate gardeners before me, I grew up with flowers, knew them all by their look and feel, and called them by all their old colloquial names.  Dames’s rocket, sweet William, monkshood, and meadow rue- the old-fashioned names are so much prettier.  Delphinium were always called Larkspur. Clematis autumnale was virgin’s bower.  The sound of “foxglove” is so much pleasanter than “digitalis.”

I agree.

 

 

 

Schlimbesserung

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Schlimbesserung is a German word for “a so-called improvement that makes things worse,”  elsewhere defined as a “disimprovement”. I found it in a comment on a blog I sometimes read,  First Known When Lost.   The word fits well the mood of this particular entry which begins:

I am conservative by nature.  But please take note, dear readers:  that is not a political statement.  I have no interest whatsoever in the acts or omissions of presidents, prime ministers, premiers, princes, or other potentates.  I feel the same way about utopian political schemes of any stripe, together with their mad inventors, purveyors, and true believers.  We all know the ultimate end of chimerical, delusive, and disingenuous dream-worlds.

Typical of this blog, there is some good poetry (a less known one by C.S. Lewis), and good art, in this case a series of three renderings of the same view in three seasons, to my mind, a comment on how things can change and yet remain the same.

Read it all here.

 

I was introduced to this by a friend a few years ago and I often think of it when I experience or observe suffering.

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Pieter Brueghel, The Fall of Icarus

Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

George Hinke’s Christmas Manger Set

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This is like the nativity set my parents put up every year.  When I was a child it reminded me that Christmas celebrates a real event, mysterious and sacred.  I am putting out mine now.   Today I found the history of this Nativity display on the Glencairn Museum site:

“Christmas Manger Set,” USA, early 1940s. This cardboard tabletop Nativity was published by Concordia Publishing House from illustrations first produced by artist George Hinke. A base is provided with special tabs to hold the 17 lithographed figures upright; each tab is carefully labeled so that even a child can assemble it. Hinke was born in 1883 in Berlin, Germany, where he trained as a painter. He immigrated to the United States in 1923. Hinke specialized in religious subjects and nostalgic scenes of small-town American life. He is best remembered for his illustrations of children’s books such as Joseph’s Story, which tells the Nativity story from Joseph’s point of view, and Jolly Old Santa Claus. Collection of Glencairn Museum.

Wake Up

For a few years now I have regularly looked, with anticipation, for a new post on a blog titled First Known When Lost.  The latest one is no disappointment:

Present

I often feel that I have spent most of my life sleepwalking or daydreaming.  Asleep at the switch.  Nearly everything has escaped me.  But each moment offers the possibility of redemption:  a new opportunity to be awake and to be present.  “Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Fortunately for us, the beautiful particulars of the World are boundlessly and endlessly merciful.  Every day, without fail, they gently shake us by the shoulders and whisper in our ear:  “Wake up!  Look over here.  Listen to this.”  Not in so many words, of course.  The World is wordless.  Yet it is not reticent.  Nor is it impassive.  Hence, immanence.

It always takes me a while to get through it all because I go off to every link, like this one to immanence:
On a late afternoon this past week I walked between two meadows.  The meadow on my left, the parade ground of a former army post, was open and expansive.  It has been mown recently, and the winter rains have turned it deep green.  On my right, a broad field of brown and gray wild grasses sloped down to the bluffs above Puget Sound.
The afternoon was windless and quiet.  The declining sun was hidden behind a flat layer of motionless grey clouds out over the Sound, stretching away to the Olympic Mountains in the west.  Throughout my walk, my eyes kept returning to a glowing patch of pale yellow in the center of the cloud blanket, above, and dimly reflected in, the dark water below.
As I gazed at the patch yet again, I suddenly heard behind and above me a tiny creaking of wings.  A dozen or so sparrows soon flew over me with the sound of a soft rush of wind.  And those lovely creaking wings.  I lost sight of the sparrows as they disappeared into the woods up ahead.
                                   Beauty
What does it mean?  Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now.  And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph —
‘Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one.’  Then in a trice that whim
Has wearied.  But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening while it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through the window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale,
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unswerving to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me.  Beauty is there.
The entry always has some interesting art interspersed throughout as well.
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It feels like fresh air to me.