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Stars & Stripes: A Visual Tribute to the American Flag

In May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. A year later, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, establishing an official flag for the new nation:

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several legislations that changed the shape, design and arrangement of elements on the flag, eventually settling on extra stars and stripes to reflect each new state. This broad span of time without specific guidelines resulted in a variety of design interpretations – which, in a way, also reflects the deeply rooted sense of freedom so cherished by Americans. The expressions were rich and proud, evolving into the flag we pledge allegiance to today.

Carrying that theme of evolvement forward, in 1986 I discovered a beautiful book by Kit Hinrichs, called “Stars and Stripes” – a compilation of exceptionally creative American Flag images created by some of the finest graphic artists of our time. I found it absolutely delightful, and a great tribute to the creativity and talent that abounds amongst us – and the creative freedom we’re able to enjoy in this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Below are just 13 samples of the many ingenious designs from that book honoring our American flag.  Enjoy, and Happy Birthday USA!

flag1flag2flag3flag4flag5

flag6

 

flag7

flag8flag9flag10flag11flag12flag13

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Tim Cantor: Amazing

Tim Cantor is ridiculously talented. (I’m pretty sure if you look up the word “amazing” in the dictionary, his picture would be there.) With a brand new exhibit (on both coasts) and a beautifully produced 333-page hard cover coffee-table book showcasing his extraordinary art and poignant writings, he’s a shining star and rightly so. (Oh, and did I mention that one of his paintings inspired an original dress design? I don’t recall who designed the dress – apologies! – but did have fun seeing it.)

Last night I had the opportunity to meet Tim and his incredibly sweet, gracious wife, Amy, at the opening of his show in SOHO at the AFA Gallery. Props to my friend Roxanne for the introduction, and thanks to the weather for making it a perfect evening to stroll through the city. Then, of course, was the phenomenal art, admired with a glass of champagne in hand.

And, there was a dragon! A marvelous dragon, and another point of connection between two artists finding a few moments amidst the flurry of an opening reception to chat about how our minds work and how we don’t really go to many art shows and never wanted to be influenced by other artists so kind of kept our heads down, eyes on the canvas, brushes ready for the whichever inspiration would win out over another. (I don’t think you realize missing other people “getting” that sort of thing until you stop working long enough to rub shoulders.)

Tim, though, unlike myself, has made his fine art into a hugely successful full-time endeavor – and with his mastery, it would be a crime if he didn’t.

His demeanor is gentle and genuine, and his work – even if you didn’t know that he’s considered an artistic “rock star”, or that his art was introduced into the permanent art collection of the White House at age 15, or that his paintings hang in numerous celebrities’ homes (Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, for example), have been exhibited around the globe and garnered wildly impressive media recognition – is truly exceptional. Seeing his surreal pieces in living color in the relatively intimate, high-ceilinged well-lit space of AFA was a delight.

The exhibit is up all summer at 54 Greene Street New York, NY 10013. Details here.

tim.cantor_rose.dragonfly_detail

tumblr_o7lon066xH1uf915ko1_1280

cantor_dog

cantor_apple

cantor_dancer2

cantor_dragon

All art created in oils, © Tim Cantor. See more of Tim’s work at timcantor.com.

 

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On Being Irish, Lucky and Green

week64.peace_celtic3

It’s upon us yet again – the day of dance and drink, and feasting on Irish bacon and cabbage, all to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Of course, I’m always a little conflicted about whether I should be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not fully Irish, you see, but I love potatoes, ballads and Liam Neeson’s accent, so maybe some of that counts a little.

I’m not all that lucky either, at least when it comes to things like winning at lotteries or blackjack ~  except for the time my sister and I, restless after being cooped up in a very, very long car ride, went looking for four-leaf clovers on a remote North Carolina mountainside (because what else do you do when you find yourself in a field of clover?). To our surprise, we both found one. Then we found more. And more! And then we started finding 5-leaf clovers, and even some 6-leafers! This was magical, I’m telling you straight out. I’ve not seen a single four-leaf clover before or since (much less the five or sixers). So maybe this just means there’s always a bit of luck along the way if we take time to notice.

As for being green, well sure, it’s a great color that comes in a slew of shades, but I can’t say I’m fond of green beer. I do love green vegetables, though, so maybe that counts. My eyes are sometimes green. And I’m sure that some Leprechauns are green, but not all of them. And this is all quite confusing, so maybe we should just leave the whole being green bit to Kermit.

Then of course, there’s the name. Are we sure, really sure, it’s all about St. Patrick? … or might there’ve been a wee slip of the pen when writing St. Patricia. Hmmmm. :  )

Speaking of… Saint Pat was actually born in Roman Britain (way back in the fifth century), but apparently was kidnapped at 16 and brought to Ireland to work as a slave. (I did not know this!)  He escaped (phew!), but returned to Ireland in later years, bringing Christianity with him, appealing to both the Roman Catholics and the Irish Protestants of the land. (No small feat in Ireland… so I’m guessing he must have been charming, as well as devout.) In the process, he also elevated the status of the shamrock, by using its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on March 17, in the year 461. Patrick has endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity.

And with all that said, it’s back to work ~ perhaps wearing a spot of green, feeling lucky, and dining on spuds with a whisper of an Irish blessing in my ear … whether any of it counts or not.

…………..

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

…………..saxton.potato.guiness.

 

saxton_week29.52weeksofpeace

 

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Twelve Months of Flowers

If only it were true. Unless you count holly berries, there’s really not much in the way of floral color in northeast winter months.

But “Twelve Months of Flowers” can be had via art prints, from the series published in 1730 by renowned British horticulturist and author Robert Furber. Mr. Furber’s name is highly attributed to these exquisite prints, and while I’m grateful that he had the insight, substantial research and knowledge (and, no doubt, the funds) to produce the collection, I’m mostly interested in the artistry.

We had two of these prints hanging in our dining room during my growing-up years – one May, one November, the months of my parent’s birthdays. Admired by all, they adorned a modest space with a rich, subtle elegance, (and now that I think of it, may have had an influence on my own interest in drawing things botanical) ~ but in all those years, while we probably did, I don’t remember talking about the artist. Regardless, for some reason they lodged in my mind’s eye today ~ so I went looking.

First of all, they are hand-colored engravings, produced by English engraver Henry Fletcher from paintings of Flemish-born artist Pieter Casteels . (They also produced an equally stunning second series, Twelve Months of Fruits.) Each work is a glorious detail of plants in seasonal bloom, with each plant numbered, and, at the time, a list of the corresponding names. More than 400 plant species were featured. This was no small project.

And so a few centuries later, I thank them ~ all three of them: Furber, Fletcher and Casteels ~ for their fine, luscious collaboration of study, talent and skill. They are so beautiful, I might even venture to call them a labor of love. But that’s what art is.

TwelveMonths1_sm

TwelveMonths2_sm

TwelveMonths3_sm

TwelveMonths4_sm

TwelveMonths5_sm

TwelveMonths6_sm

TwelveMonths7_sm

TwelveMonths8_sm

TwelveMonths9_sm

TwelveMonths10_sm

TwelveMonths11_sm

TwelveMonths12_sm

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Stars & Stripes: A Visual Tribute to the American Flag

In May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. A year later, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, establishing an official flag for the new nation:

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several legislations that changed the shape, design and arrangement of elements on the flag, eventually settling on extra stars and stripes to reflect each new state. This broad span of time without specific guidelines resulted in many design interpretations – which, in a way, also reflects the deeply rooted sense of freedom so cherished by Americans. The expressions were rich and proud, eventually evolving into the flag we pledge allegiance to today.

Carrying that theme of evolvement forward, in 1986 I discovered a beautiful book by Kit Hinrichs, called “Stars and Stripes” – a compilation of exceptionally creative American Flag images created by some of the finest graphic artists of our time. I found it absolutely delightful, and a great tribute to the creativity and talent that abounds amongst us – and the creative freedom we’re able to enjoy in this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Below are just 13 samples of the many ingenious designs from that book honoring our American flag.  Enjoy, and Happy Birthday USA!

flag1flag2flag3flag4flag5

flag6

 

flag7

flag8flag9flag10flag11flag12flag13

all images copyright of creator

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Twelve Months of Flowers

If only it were true. Unless you count holly berries, there’s really not much in the way of floral color during northeastern winter months.

But “Twelve Months of Flowers” can be had via art prints, from the series published in 1730 by renowned British horticulturist and author Robert Furber. Mr. Furber’s name is the one most highly attributed to these exquisite prints, and while I’m grateful that he provided the insight, substantial research and knowledge (and, no doubt, the funds) to produce the collection, I’m mostly interested in the artistry.

Two of these prints hung in our dining room during my growing-up years – one May, one November, the months of my parent’s birthdays. Much admired, they gave a rich, subtle elegance to a modest space (and now that I think of it, may have influenced my own interest in drawing things botanical) ~ but in all those years, strangely, I don’t remember talking about the artist. So I went looking.

I discovered that the meticulously hand-colored engravings were created by English engraver Henry Fletcher, based on the paintings of Flemish-born artist Pieter Casteels, and that Twelve Months of Flowers was originally produced as a gardening guide in catalogue format and sold by subscription. (They also produced an equally stunning second series, Twelve Months of Fruits.) The images were aimed at wealthy landowners interested in growing plants for beauty more than functionality.

Each work is a glorious detail of plants in seasonal bloom, with each plant numbered, and, at the time, a list of the corresponding names. More than 400 plant species were featured. This was no small project. Huge talent. Enormous dedication to both botany and craft.

And so, a few centuries later, I thank them the three of them: Furber, Fletcher and Casteels ~ for their luscious collaboration of study, talent and skill. They are so beautiful, I would even venture to call them a labor of love. But that’s what art is.

TwelveMonths1_sm

TwelveMonths2_sm

TwelveMonths3_sm

TwelveMonths4_sm

TwelveMonths5_sm

TwelveMonths6_sm

TwelveMonths7_sm

TwelveMonths8_sm

TwelveMonths9_sm

TwelveMonths10_sm

TwelveMonths11_sm

TwelveMonths12_sm

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Things That Go Bump in the Night (… boo!)

I’ll be missing the trick-or-treaters this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get into the “spirit” of things. So I present you with some art and prose to keep the spirit alive. (oh, yea, I said that)  Just remember to keep the little ones safe, stir your cauldrons slowly and never take candy from a goblin you don’t know.

eatdrinkbescary3

eatdrinkbescary

Print small_pencils.boo peace_halloween_72
1394452_530175837068113_90376699_n

……………………………..

All Hallows

By Louise Gluck

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling

Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

 ……………………………..
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I
by William Shakespeare

Three witches, casting a spell …
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

 ……………………………..

And a song to sing:
to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

If you’re a monster and you know it, wave your arms.
If you’re a monster and you know it, wave your arms.
If you’re a monster and you know it,
and you really wanna show it,
If you’re a monster and you know it, wave your arms.

……………………………..
FB.spellsBrannan
havebroom.pic_viva2.willfly

……………………………..

And off I go then.
But first I will leave you with this link to some really cool, very spooky art created by artist Don Kenn. Happy Halloween…. !
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Fun With Apples

Fruits may very well be one of the most universally painted subjects. Fruits, flowers, landscapes, portraits – all very classic.  But fruits in particular, ah … they’re full of delicious secrets, hidden like magic beneath their splendid curves, their dappled, imperfect skins protecting succulent juices dripping with nutrients, new life at their very core. They are marvels. God’s candy. Delivered fresh every season. And to the artist’s eye, something entirely pleasing, century after century.

For me, it’s always been pears and apples. Grapes are nice. Peaches, too. But apples and pears are my favorites. So I delighted in some apple-picking last weekend, and pulling out my handy-dandy iPhone for some on-the-spot shots. And since I’m now an expert, I share with you how to have fun with apples:

First, you go to the farm and walk to the apple orchards. You see your favorite variety (SunCrisps), and just because it’s a beautiful day, stop and take a few pictures. Then you start picking.

Next you take a selfie with your daughter (< insert your own favorite person) (well, she takes the selfie); pick a few more apples, put ’em in the basket, take ’em home.

Then you notice the afternoon sun streaming in lovely ribbons through the kitchen window, grab your camera and shoot a few  more shots of your freshly picked produce. Added bonus: you get to eat your prize. All in all, a pretty sweet way to spend an October day. Costs little, inspires much.

But it didn’t end there, because I thought I’d share some apple art into the mix here too. for a real apple fest. Enjoy! :  )

floating.apple_sm2.sig

apples.tree.sig

apples.slant.buttercream.sig2

saxton.apple.leaf.sig

apples.clos.sig

apples.table2.sig

apples.table1.viva

apple.strokes

saxton.bowloffruit.cropped.sig

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A Plethora of P’s / #70: Pen (and Ink)

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

saxton.P_penaandink“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

I’ve always liked this quote. It assumes the great power of words, language and intention, which are just a few of my favorite things, along with pens themselves, of course.

[Side note: I’d always assumed this was a line from Shakespeare. Sounds like it ought to be, right? But I was wrong. This is what learned: This line was quoted in 1839 from a play written by Britain’s Edward Bulwer-Lytton, both an Author and Politician of his day. No one remembers the play (Richelieu: or, the Conspiracy) but we’ve all heard the line. Apparently he’s also famous for the opening “It was a dark and stormy night”. I just love learning new things. 🙂 ]

In any event – back to P for pen. This is actually a guest P, created by a friend of mine and presented as a surprise, which truly delighted me. She’d taken a Zendangle course, and this was something she produced. Isn’t it great?! I adore it.

It’s also great because pens have always been an important positive in my own world. I am, in fact, most comfortable with a pen in hand ~ I just think better with a pen in hand. I’m also able to doodle if things are dull on the other side of the table or the other end of the phone, or in meetings, or just as an unconscious release of nervous energy. They’re great for making lists, and of course, for jotting down flashes of brilliance (that may or may not be brilliant on second look). My thoughts flow most easily when writing. As if the connection between mind and hand takes just enough longer than the one from mind to mouth, allowing for a richer expression, rather than a quick one.

Pens and I go way back. As a child I was always drawing and writing. My mother, a poet, was always writing. My parents had fallen in love through letter-writing. Pens were the natural order of things.

Then as my drawing skills developed, I got more and more courageous and soon stepped out of my comfort zone with pencils (which can be erased) to pen and ink (which cannot be erased). This is when I learned, sometimes the hard way, that mistakes a.) happen and b.) are not always remedied, but c.) can sometimes be made into something better. A life lesson from an unlikely source, but a good one I’ve carried with me.

So I, yes, am grateful for pens. And I do believe they are mighty. <3

Here are a few pen and inks from my archives.

old.treeFB

flowerswatercolor.crop8X8sig_72

saxton_yugoslavia_sm

bass2

 

(see our ongoing Plethora of P’s here)

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A Plethora of P’s / #69: Palette

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

saxton.P_palette

Palette is defined as a range of colors, especially those typically used by an artist. But we all have what I think of as a personal palette. Our palette can reflect how we feel ~ or project how we wish to be perceived. What we wear, the colors in our home, foods arranged on a plate.

And surely our personalities have color too ~ the sunny, the brooding, the comic, the serious ~ the whole wide range. And within that, are the shades of our moods. And around all that, there are the colors in our aura. (Imagine, what a kaleidoscope of brilliance we all must make together!)

And beyond all that ~ beyond what they may represent, beyond their gift of making the world more, well, colorful ~ colors, in my opinion, in all their tones and hues and flavors, are essentially magical. They can calm and soothe, they can excite and energize. They can heal, and they can disrupt. They’re emotional. They tell stories. They’re loud or soft, subtle and sensitive, harsh, tender, generous; they’re unyielding, protective, submissive, lighthearted, stormy, hot, warm, cool. They are infinite and inexhaustibly interchangeable. There are worlds within worlds of just the color red alone. The whole spectrum of expression is unfathomable.

So, with all that possibility, you can mix your palette to your heart’s content ~ a dash here, a broad stroke there, a sprinkling of this, a spot of that. (Note: mixing with love and a generous pinch of harmony produces the best results.) However you please, there’s magic for the making, if not only a lift for the spirit.

(see our ongoing Plethora of P’s here)

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