Category Archives: Art

Monday Morning Wisdom #99: T is for Tchaikovsky

Monday Morning Wisdom #99: T is for Tchaikovsky

“There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest (inspiration) does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his MMWhands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.”
― Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Portrait of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky by Nikolai Kuznetsov


Creative Juice #38

Creative Juice #38

Nine articles, mostly art-related.

Creative Juice #37

Creative Juice #37

A dozen beautiful things to ponder on a Good Friday:

I is for Icon


Christ, 6th Century

An icon (from Greek εἰκών eikōn “image”) is a religious work of art, usually a portrait-style painting, used in Eastern Orthodox churches and homes. The most common subjects are Christ, Mary, and saints.


Christ and St. Menas, 6th Century

Eastern Orthodox tradition holds that the creation of Christian images dates back to the very early days of Christianity, and identifies Luke the Evangelist as the first icon painter. Icons can only be traced back as far as the 3rd century A.D. The icons of later centuries can be linked, often closely, to images from the 5th century onwards, though very few of these survive.


St. Peter

St. Peter, 6th Century

Though the Roman Catholic church encouraged religious art, other Christian denominations are wary about the veneration of “graven images,” forbidden in the commandments (see Exodus 20:4). Even the Orthodox church outlawed images at times. During 726-842, the Byzantine Iconoclasm destroyed most existing icons.

Madonna of Czestochowska

Black Madonna of Czestochowa, symbol of Poland

The iconographer is expected prepare himself for his work by following a strict discipline of fasting and prayer. Painting the icon is not a use of imagination. Instead, the icon is painted using the prescribed regimen and style passed down through the centuries. Everything from the facial expressions to the colors used is predetermined. It is understood that a person who saw him in the flesh painted the first icon of an individual; each subsequent iconographer will use the original icon as a guide.

401px-Vladimirskaya (our lady of Vladimir

Theotokos of Vladimir, 12th Century, symbol of Russia

Icons depict silence; no actions displayed, no open mouths. The icon invites the Christian to enter into contemplation, prayer, and silence. Space is not defined as three-dimensional and time is insignificant. Lighting proceeds from the character portrayed in the icon. There are never shadows in icons. And since the icon’s purpose is to lead the believer into worship, the artist never signs his work.

Angel Gabriel

Archangel Gabriel, 12th Century



Holy Trinity, 1699. I don’t know why the Godhead is depicted with angel’s wings.

Information for this article was taken from:


Video Extra: Happy Unicorn Day!

Video Extra: Happy Unicorn Day!

Creative Juice #36

Creative Juice #36

A baker’s dozen of links to delight you with beauty and creativity and personal growth.

  1. Fabulous review of a children’s book about poetry.
  2. Great abstract art project for children or adults. You’ll need colored tissue paper.
  3. A totally different way to enhance your creativity.
  4. The argument for output.
  5. Quilters: do you have a bunch of “orphan blocks”? Here’s what to do with them (and an idea for accumulating more).
  6. Literary nerd types will love this analysis.
  7. An exercise for writers who want to find their voice.
  8. Pretty art journal pages.
  9. This quirky, artsy hotel is located right next to the Irish Cultural Center, where I folk dance. It was vacant for a long time, and recently reopened.
  10. I’m not wild about tattoos, but these are really interesting.
  11. Beautiful Iranian architecture.
  12. The virtues of mini-quilts.
  13. Beautiful cakes.

C is for Caravaggio


Self-portrait, Caravaggio

Michelangelo (not that Michelangelo) Caravaggio (29 September 1571–18 July 1610) was a man of contrasts: a master painter and a violent hothead.

He studied under Simone Peterzano in Milan. In 1592 Caravaggio left Milan for Rome, to escape prosecution for “certain quarrels” and the wounding of a police officer.

His first true masterpiece was The Cardsharps, a psychological study of a naïve youth falling victim to card cheats. Its popularity attracted the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, one of the leading connoisseurs in Rome.


The Cardsharps, Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s reputation grew with his paintings on religious themes, and the emergence of remarkable spirituality in his art. But true fame would depend on public commissions, and for these it was necessary to look to the Church.


The Lute Player, Caravaggio

In Rome, there was a demand for paintings to fill the many huge new churches and palazzos being built at the time. The Roman Church was searching for artistic ways to counter the threat of Protestantism. Caravaggio’s innovation was a realism born of close physical observation combined with chiaroscuro, a dramatic technique of highlighting the otherwise deeply shadowed subject with a brilliant shaft of light. He preferred to paint his subjects as the eye sees them, with all their natural flaws and defects. Some denounced him for his deviation from accepted classical idealism of Michelangelo (yes, that Michelangelo) and for painting from life, without drawings, but for the most part he was hailed as a great artistic visionary.


The Taking of Christ, Caravaggio



For the most part each new painting increased his fame, but a few were rejected by the various bodies for whom they were intended, at least in their original forms, and had to be re-painted or find new buyers. While Caravaggio’s dramatic and emotional intensity was appreciated, his realism was seen by some as unacceptably vulgar.

His first version of Saint Matthew and the Angel, featuring the evangelist as an old, bald peasant whose clumsy hands were directed by a lightly clad boy-angel, was rejected as being disrespectful and inappropriate, and a second version had to be painted as The Inspiration of Saint Matthew.

Saint Matthew and the Angel  was destroyed during the bombing of Dresden during World War II. The image above left is a colorized black and white photo to the original painting.

Caravaggio’s influence on the new Baroque style can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Peter Paul Rubens, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Rembrandt.

Only about 80 paintings by Caravaggio have survived.

While his artwork increased in skill and in spiritual depth, his behavior became increasingly bizarre, including sleeping fully armed and in his clothes, ripping up a painting at a slight word of criticism, and mocking local painters.


San Gerolamo (Saint Jerome), Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s violent temper caused problems for him all his life. He was notorious for brawling, even in a time and place when such behavior was commonplace. On 29 May 1606, he killed, possibly unintentionally, a young man named Ranuccio Tomassoni under mysterious circumstances. Rumors hint at a quarrel over a gambling debt and a tennis game. Previously his high-placed patrons had protected him from the consequences of his escapades, but this time they could do nothing. Caravaggio, outlawed, fled to Naples, as he had earlier.

In Naples, an attempt was made on his life by persons unknown. At first it was reported in Rome that the “famous artist” Caravaggio was dead, but then it was learned he was alive, but seriously disfigured.

He later fled to Malta, presumably hoping that the patronage of Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, could help him secure a pardon for Tomassoni’s death. De Wignacourt proved so impressed at having the famous artist as official painter to the Order that he inducted him as a knight. Major works from his Malta period include a huge Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (the only painting to which he put his signature) and a Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt and his Page, as well as portraits of other leading knights. Yet by late August 1608 he was arrested and imprisoned for yet another brawl, during which the door of a house was battered down and a knight seriously wounded. He managed to escape. By December he had been expelled from the Order “as a foul and rotten member.”

He was only 39 when he died. Some scholars claim Caravaggio was murdered by the same “enemies” that had been pursuing him since he fled Malta, possibly Wignacourt and/or knight factions. But another theory is that Caravaggio might have died of lead poisoning. Violent behavior can be caused by too much lead in the body. Paints used at the time contained high amounts of lead salts, and bones with high lead levels were found in a grave likely to be Caravaggio’s.

Wikipedia provided most of the information for this article.


ALCGC2017: April Check-in

ALCGC2017: April Check-in

“The ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge for 2017” is quite a mouthful. I’ve created a shorthand nickname for it: ALCGC2017. Let’s use the Twitter hashtag #ALCGC2017 to tweet about our goals.

Another month down. How are you doing on your creative goals?

I’ve been doing pretty good with my Bible reading. I only missed a couple of days.

I’m doing less well with my poetry and my visual art. I only wrote two poems in March, made one sketch, and colored a page in my journal.


I also haven’t spent 15 minutes a day decluttering my office. Sigh.

I know I’m spending too much time on social media. I promote my blog posts, read other bloggers’ posts, and share great content on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Add checking email, and it eats up two hours of my writing time. I keep saying I’m going to limit it to one hour, but I don’t. My other creative expressions lose out. So does my organizing.

I’m finding it hard to stay ahead on blogging, only devoting three days a week to it. I may have to take a day away from my other projects to get back on track.

7. The Unicorn in CaptivityI’m making good progress on reworking short pieces from decades ago and sending them out. I’ve entered some writing contests (haven’t won any yet), and I’m submitting a picture book to agents and an article to some magazines.

I’m still rewriting The Unicornologist, and it’s far from done, but it’s getting so good and the end is in sight. I’m excited about the progress. The God of Paradox is coming along, too.

Except for evenings when I’m exhausted (I thought I was over that when I “retired” from teaching), dancing, or at Bible study, I’ve been practicing piano an hour a night, and either guitar or recorder up to an hour. I’m up to page 35 in Essential Elements for Guitar. The fingertips on my left hand are numb; they still feel like the guitar strings are cutting them, but the calluses are getting thicker. Does it ever get better? I’m in Unit 11 in The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book. I think my tone is improving. I’m having a problem with intonation on the recorder. Sometimes the high C, D, and E are flat compared to the low ones.

And last Saturday my friend Barbara and I went to the Phoenix Symphony. We heard Buxtehude’s Chaconne in e minor (orchestrated by Carlos Chavez); Arvo Part’s In principio, and Mozart’s Requiem. We’re so blessed to live so near to a world-class orchestra. I’ve never attended one of their concerts where they did not earn their standing ovation. Conductors, chorus, soloists, and instrumentalists–all were awe-inspiring. That counts as my “artist date.” We both left feeling fueled for inspiration.


Now it’s your turn. I’d love to know how all of you are doing so far in 2017, so I (and ARHtisticLicense readers) can encourage you. Don’t be shy! If you’re keeping accountable on your blog, paste a link into the comments below. Or if you don’t have a blog, just tell us your successes and your challenges this past month. ARHtistic License was created to help the creative community keep refining their skills. Check in on May 1, 2017 to share your progress during April.

Creative Juice #35

Creative Juice #35

Thirteen lucky articles to make you smile and tweak your imagination.

Creative Juice #34

Creative Juice #34

Thirteen articles to inspire you.