Category Archives: Articles

Let There Be Light

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Let There Be Light

When I was in college, mood lighting consisted of a candle stuck in the mouth of a wine bottle. (Preferably a chianti bottle, the kind with straw tied around it, and covered in the the drips of many different colored melted candles. Check Pinterest if you can’t picture it, but you have to have a Pinterest account to be able to see this link.)

By the time I got married, one of the classiest gifts you could possibly give someone was a silver candelabra like this one:Silver

Whole aisles in supermarkets and department stores were devoted to tapered candle displays, featuring every imaginable length and color. Today, nary a taper is to be found, except in specialty stores. Today’s candles are pillars, votives, and tea lights.

I visited one of my favorite art sites, Etsy, to see what sort of candelabras are available, and most of them are described as vintage. (For purchasing information about the examples pictured, click on the links below the photographs. Click on small images to enlarge them.)

Left: Antique; Right: Art Nouveau

I love these two Mid-Century Modern ones. Left: Articulated; Right: 1960s

Left: Black filigree; Right: Black Dansk

Left: Wall branch; Right: Driftwood

Left: Wavy brass; Right: Brass trio

Left: Cherub twins; Right: Cherub double holder

Left: Chrome; Right: Glass

Flower

This one reminds me of Capodimonte ceramic flowers, so popular in the 70s and 80s.

Left: Weightlifter frog; Right: Tulips

Himalaya salt

My first impression was that these look like glazed donuts, but they’re actually made of Himalaya salt.

Left: Mercury glass; Right: Steel

Mexican

Beautiful Mexican tree of life.

Roccoco

Scary Rococo candelabra. Seeing this flashed me back to a super-baroque double vase my mother had. I haven’t thought about it in decades.

Left: Ornate; Right: Twisty

Left: White with onyx; Left: Wooden

Trees

Light in the forest. Look at the lovely shadow pictures it throws.

What about you–do you have any pretty (or ugly, or unusual) candleholders at home? Which is your favorite? Share with us in the comments below.

 

The Joy of Childhood Poetry

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The Joy of Childhood Poetry

One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading Mother Goose books to me. I know that even as a little tot I had a large repertoire of rhymes that I could recite by heart. In kindergarten we learned lots of songs that were essential nursery rhymes set to music: Jack and Jill, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Old King Cole, London Bridge is Falling Down, and many others. Mother Goose nursery rhymes were a passage of childhood for my generation, as they had been for hundreds of years.

mother gooseWhen our children were young, we continued the tradition, buying different collections of rhymes and reading them to the kids over and over so that they soon knew them by heart. There’s something about rhyme and meter that imbed themselves in the unconscious, and even more so if they’re combined with a tune. I think you could sing the first line of a Mother Goose rhyme to an Alzheimer’s patient, and he’d be able to finish it for you.

To my sorrow, I found during my second teaching career (2006-2014) that most of my elementary school students weren’t familiar with nursery rhymes. In elementary general music, many activities start with a well-known rhyme. Since my students didn’t have a shared knowledge base of rhymes, I had to teach them a rhyme first before we could use it as the basis of a music experience. Sigh.

Back in the day, memorization of poems was a popular classroom activity. Few teachers today are able to spend time on this pursuit, because it’s usually not measured on standardized tests.

However, I still partially remember four poems I learned from Mrs. Susan Westerfield when I was in second grade, more than fifty years ago. Since they are in the public domain, I will share them with you. (Please forgive the improper formatting. I am a dunce when it comes to code.)

SwingThe Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

ShadowMy Shadow
By Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an errant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Gingham by JeromeG111 CCLic

Photo by JeromeG111, used under Creative Commons License

The Duel
By Eugene Field

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
’Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn’t there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went “bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied “mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I’m only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don’t fancy I exaggerate!
I got my views from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of the dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
But the truth about the cat and the pup
Is this: They ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

Wynken by Crossett Library

Photo by Crossett Library

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
By Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
’Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock on the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three,—
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

I even remember drawing illustrations for Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

What about you–did you learn nursery rhymes as a child? Did you memorize poems in elementary school? What are some of your favorites? Share with us in the comments below.

Guest Post: 4 Reasons To Keep An Idea Journal by Nicole Bianchi

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Many thanks to Nicole Bianchi for her permission to post this excerpt:

Leonardo da Vinci. Marie Curie.

Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci

Thomas Edison. Beatrix Potter.

What do all four of these people have in common?

Not only were they highly motivated and creative individuals, but they also all kept an idea journal.

An idea journal is quite different from a diary. You use an idea journal not to record all of the things that happened to you throughout the day, but to jot down daily goals, achievements, opinions, observations, or bits of inspiration. If you’re working on a project, you can fill the idea journal with updates on your progress, thoughts on how to improve the project, and anything else that motivates you.

A writer’s idea journal might be filled with ideas for stories or articles or blog posts (no need to fear writer’s block when you have an idea journal). An artist’s might contain sketches or inspirations for drawings. Ultimately, the idea journal exists as a private place to plant your ideas and watch them grow.

Here are four reasons why you should keep an idea journal.

  1. An Idea Journal Helps You Remember & Develop Ideas

design_for_a_flying_machine

Leo’s design for a flying machine

Among Leonardo da Vinci’s many achievements, he was a brilliant artist, mathematician, engineer, scientist, and inventor.

In his notebooks, he filled pages and pages with sketches, scientific diagrams, ideas for new inventions, and reflections on art.

Because da Vinci was left-handed, he found it easier to write from right to left. That means his notes can only be read in a mirror. To make his writings even more private, he often employed a kind of shorthand and didn’t worry about perfect penmanship or proper punctuation.

What he did care about was carefully recording his lab notes and his many ideas for new inventions: everything from a flying machine to a submarine prototype.

Da Vinci’s notebooks ensured that he never forgot any of his ideas.

If you write down every great idea that comes into your head right away like da Vinci did, you will not have to worry about forgetting an idea ever again.

Further, the action of writing down an idea forces you to think more deeply about it.

The idea journal helps you clarify your thoughts and express them more clearly.

Note from Andrea: Does reading this excerpt make you want read the other three reasons to keep an idea journal? Read the full article.

The Quintessential Portrait Painter

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The Quintessential Portrait Painter

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was born in Florence, Italy to American parents. He had little formal schooling; instead, he learned geography, arithmetic, and reading from his father. He became an accomplished pianist. His mother, an amateur artist, encouraged him to draw, and the family’s travels exposed him to many subjects for his artwork, and also facilitated fluency in Italian, French, and German.

He began his formal art training during the winter of 1873–74 at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In May, 1874, Sargent entered the teaching atelier of Carolus-Duran, a leading portraitist in Paris, who encouraged his students to paint immediately (rather than make preliminary drawings. Study of the works of Rembrandt, van Dyck and Velázquez also influenced Sargent. But at a time when the art world experimented with Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism, Sargent practiced his own form of Realism.

308px-Madame_X_(Madame_Pierre_Gautreau),_John_Singer_Sargent,_1884_(unfree_frame_crop)

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gantreau)

He burst into the art scene in 1884 with his painting of Madame Pierre Gautreau. Exhibited as Madame X, people complained that the painting was provocatively erotic, producing scandal for Sargent rather than fame. He decided to flee Paris for London in 1886, living in England for most of the rest of his life, and becoming the “leading portrait painter of his generation” for his depictions of Edwardian era luxury.

Sargent had no assistants; he handled all tasks himself, such as preparing his canvases, varnishing the painting, arranging for photography, shipping, and documentation. He commanded about $5,000 per portrait, or about $130,000 in today’s currency.

After the turn of the century, Sargent grew tired of portrait painting (although he consented to painting portraits of United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson). He acquired commissions for other kinds of work, such as murals for the Boston Public Library, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University. He also established a solid reputation as a watercolorist.

495px-john_singer_sargent_-_mrs-_cecil_wade_-_google_art_project

Portrait of Mrs. Cecil Wade

edinburgh_ngs_singer_sargent_lady_agnew

Portrait of Lady Agnew

434px-john_d-_rockefeller_1917_painting

Portrait of John D. Rockefeller

404px-nancy_viscountess_astor_by_john_singer_sargent

Portrait of Nancy Viscountess Astor

sargent_portrait_of_lady_helen_vincent_1904

Portrait of Lady Helen Vincent

628px-john_singer_sargent_-_the_garden_wall_-_google_art_project

The Garden Wall

399px-bedouins_john_singer_sargent

Bedouins

470px-john_singer_sargent_-_the_fountain_villa_torlonia_frascati_italy_-_google_art_project

The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy

531px-john_singer_sargent_-_carnation_lily_lily_rose_-_google_art_project

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

 

494px-john_singer_sargent_-_a_capriote_-_google_art_project

Dans Les Oliviers

576px-john_singer_sargent_-_street_in_venice_ngai

Street in Venice

sargent_monetpainting

Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood

sargent_-_muddy_alligators

Muddy Alligators

586px-john_singer_sargent_-_an_out-of-doors_study_-_google_art_project

An Out-of-Doors Study

599px-the_daughters_of_edward_darley_boit_john_singer_sargent_1882_unfree_frame_crop

The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

Click here to hear artist Kehinde Wiley’s thoughts on John Singer Sargent.

Information for this article was gathered from:

 

Quilting Tip Roundup

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quiltWhether you’re new to quilting or you’ve been around the quilt block a few times, I bet you’ll find something here that you didn’t already know:

Do you have some quilting tips to pass on? Share in the comments below. And if you liked this post, please click the little star. It takes so little to make me happy.

How to Make a Meme on a Mac

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How to Make a Meme on a Mac

Most Fridays on ARHtistic License, I post a little feature I call In the Meme Time, featuring a picture with a saying. At first, I shared memes I’d found on Facebook or Twitter, but then I began to feel guilty that I might be trampling on someone’s rights. Sometimes a meme bears the name or website of its creator; other times there’s no way to give credit to the designer due to the number of times it’s circulated through social media. I’ve stopped sharing anonymous memes on the blog.

I thought I should learn how to make my own. I tried using a free online meme generator, but it was a little clunky to use. Here’s the first meme I ever made:

ideal

When my HP Pavillion Notebook outlived its usefulness, I replaced it with a MacBook Air, and I discovered that the Preview application (for viewing downloaded images) has nice editing capabilities, including cropping and adding text—perfect for creating memes.

Around this time, I realized I really liked some of the comments I made on other people’s tweets—they were well-crafted little sayings in their own rights. So I created a Word document titled “Make a Meme out of This,” and I started saving my favorite comments in that file.

Here is my process for creating memes:

  1. Come up with a saying you want to illustrate. You can use your own words or a quote (if you use a quote, you must credit the author).
  2. Take or locate a digital photo which goes well with the words. (See Good Sources for Free Images.) Save it on your computer in a special folder (I call mine “Photos for Memes”)—give the photo a name that will help you identify it (like “Dock”).
  3. Click on the photo in the folder. It should pop up in Preview.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-3-59-37-pm
  4. See the little toolbox icon next to the Search window? Click on that. The toolbox menu will appear.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-01-47-pm
  5. If you want to cut something out of the picture (for example, the out-of-focus people), click on the left-most icon that looks like a dotted-line square. It will give you some shape options. Choose the shape you’d like the finished image to be, and use the cursor to enclose the parts of the picture you want to keep. While you’re working, a button that says “Crop” will appear. Press it when you’re satisfied with the image you’ve got. (I didn’t, because the picture was fine as-is for my purpose.) WARNING: IF YOU SAVE YOUR MEME BEFORE YOU ARE FINISHED FINE-TUNING IT, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FURTHER EDIT IT.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-35-25-pm
  6. Press the T icon, and a text box will appear in the center of the picture. Click within the text box, and type in your saying.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-02-34-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-05-19-pm
  7. Click elsewhere on the picture (not within the text box), and then you can drag the words to wherever you want them to appear.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-06-05-pm
  8. Click within the text box again, and then press command and the a key on your keyboard at the same time. This will highlight all your text. Now click the A icon. This will give you all your text options, like font, size, color, and justification. Experiment until you get it the way you want it.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-06-32-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-07-32-pm
  9. Repeat steps 6-8 if you want to add your name or your website to the bottom of the image (highly recommended). It could help drive a new visitor to you blog—even if someone else shares your meme.
  10. Sometimes your words just won’t show up against the background of your photo. Changing the color of the words might help, but if it doesn’t, you can color the background of your text box. You see the square icon to the left of the A icon? After clicking within your text box, click the square icon and choose a background color, preferably one which blends in with the surrounding colors.screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-5-01-14-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-15-at-5-02-30-pm

Here are some of the other memes I’ve made.

risk

judgment

give-it-a-try

negative-meme

affirmation-meme

turn-around-meme

paralyze-fear-meme

pencil-writing-meme

words-meme

brainstorm-meme

Was this article helpful to you? Do you have suggestions for making memes on a PC? Please share in the comments below.

Review of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

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Review of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

I bought poemcrazy at Borders (Remember Borders Books? Sigh.) when my oldest daughter entered Bennington College in 1996. Poetry was one of her areas of study (I think it was her original major), and I thought she would like it. But as I flipped through it, I decided I’d read it first, then send it to her.

PoemcrazyI started reading it often, always meaning to try out the exercises, but never getting around to it. Meanwhile, Carly changed majors several times, graduated from Bennington with a degree in German, then got a Masters from NYU in English as a second language, earned a second Masters from Baruch College, and started doctoral work. I’ve never sent her the book.

Finally, last January I began a year-long love affair with poemcrazy: freeing your life with words, by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, which has resulted in twenty-seven babies (poems) so far.

Poemcrazy is an informal textbook on creating free verse. Wooldridge is a nationally known teacher of poetry workshops to students of all ages. She is more interested in playing with words to release their emotional content than in adhering to strict form or rhyme constraints.

Wooldridge advocates collecting words in a wordpool. She likes writing individual words on tickets, like those used at carnivals. Throughout the book, Wooldridge makes suggestions for additions to the pool.

I write my words on quartered 3×5 cards, color coded: blue for adjectives, yellow for verbs, orange for nouns, green for colors, and pink for feelings. I rubberband each color together and store them in a Ziplock baggie in my desk drawer.

The wordpool can be used to generate poems. For me, one or two cards drawn from each category create weird juxtapositions that ignite bizarre images and bring long-repressed memories back into my consciousness, releasing floodgates of emotion—a perfect breeding ground for poetry.

writing-helloquence

Using stories from her life and examples from her workshops, Wooldridge nudges the reader toward creativity:

…Erica [a high school student] stared at a perfect, round dandelion gone to seed. When Stacie knocked some seeds, off, Erica went outside for another. She wanted a perfect sphere. I asked her to look closely, name it and then describe what the dandelion looked like, reminding her that close observation is important in poetry.

Then I asked her to think about a quality of the dandelion that could enrich her life. I felt discouraged and I was pushing her. I asked her to begin, What does it look like? What does it look like that it isn’t? When Erica finally wrote about her dandelion, I was reminded of the power of comparison (or simile and metaphor) to expand our sense of possibility in ourselves and in everyday objects.

Wish domedandelion
it looks like someone shot
an arrow in the moon
or even a golf ball on a green tee.
A domed jungle gym
with small people growing out.
An octopus tarred and feathered.
It smells like starbursts…
I can smell the arrow
it flew by so fast.
Bring me the light touch of a bubble
the freedom of air
the firmness and strength of a rock.

Before I read this book, I didn’t think I could write poetry.

Now I know I can.

Poemcrazy was first released in 1996. It is now in its twenty-sixth printing.

ALCGC2017: March Check-in

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ALCGC2017: March 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?bible-open-to-psalms

I missed about three days of reading my Bible. I will try harder, because that twenty minutes really helps me focus on what’s important.

I’ve been horrible about spending 15 minutes a day on decluttering my study. Honest to goodness, stuff just keeps multiplying in here.

I can only find three poems for February. I can’t remember if that’s all I wrote, or if I put them in a different file. I’ll post what I’ve got on March 11, 2017.

I spent my art time the first half of the month zentangling hearts. The remainder of the month I devoted to making one pencil sketch, and coloring in my journal.

I’m behind where I want to be with my blogging. I’d prefer to be about a month ahead, but I still have about nine dates in March without posts. It’s hard to write 7+ articles in three days. I’m trying to keep focused.

But I am making progress with my other writing projects. writing

I rewrote two pieces in my file cabinet. I submitted one to a children’s magazine, and I’m researching agents who represent picture books to send the other one to.

I’m gearing up to doing a final editing pass on The Unicornologist, and then I’ll send it out to my beta readers for their feedback.

I’ve completed a few segments of The God of Paradox.

It’s funny. Whatever I’m working on becomes my favorite project. It’s challenging to have so many things to juggle. At the end of each session, I wish I could return to the same thing the next day.

guitar

The practicing is going well. I’ve missed a few days because of exhaustion or competing priorities. My guitar sessions have lengthened to 45 minutes, just because it’s hard to practice everything I should and actually start new material if I only give it half an hour. I’m up to page 28 in Essential Elements for Guitar. My fingers are still sore, though, even though I can see the calluses building.

Recorder has creeped up to 35 minutes, but it’s easier for me than guitar. Now I’d say I play as well as my former sixth grade students. I’m not quite back to my former level yet, but I’m improving. I’m starting Unit 9 in The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book.

al-goal-2017

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. 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 April 1, 2017 to share your progress during March.

Rising Tide Sculpture

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Rising Tide Sculpture

Richard Vest, the son of a commercial fisherman, grew up in San Francisco. Though he’s not  interested in hauling fish from the sea in nets, he captures fish and wildlife in another way.

Even as a child, he loved to draw, and won prizes for his art. He attended San Francisco State University, where he earned degrees in Fine Art and Design/Technology and acquired his secondary teaching credential. He taught art and woodworking in the San Ramon, California, school district before devoting himself to his art full-time.

vest_headshot

Richard Vest

Using his own photography of creatures as a reference, Vest first captures his subjects as a sketch. Then he selects his wood, and using various grinders and carving tools, crafts his remarkably detailed sculptures. Most are meant to hang on the wall, but he carves free-standing pieces as well.

All of Vest’s pieces are one-of-a-kind. He also produces artworks on commission, but due to differences in woodgrain and slight variations in execution, no two sculptures are ever exactly alike.

 

bear

Bear

I first met Vest at the Tempe Festival of the Arts, where I was dazzled by an enormous bear, like this one, but larger. Vest is a popular participant at a number of shows every year.

For more information about the sculptures shown here, click the link below each photo. You can also visit his website and his Etsy shop.

turtle

Turtle

clown-trigger

Clown trigger fish

buffalo

Buffalo mirror

armadillo

Armadillo

bass

Sea bass

heron

Blue Heron

zebra

Zebra

lighthouse-rt

Lighthouse mirror

Left octopus; right octopus

unic

Unicorn

Of course, I had to include the unicorn. But, obviously, Vest was not working from a photograph, because then he’d know real unicorns look more like goats than horses. (Sorry, Richard–I’m a medieval purist. I like my unicorns like the ones in the tapestries in The Cloisters.)

Note: all the photographs in this article are the property of Richard Vest. Used with permission. All photographs are copyrighted, and no part of any photo/carving may be reproduced by any means including photographically, mechanically, or digitally and is subject to all U.S. copyright laws.

Guest Post: Private Lives

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Guest Post: Private Lives

Many thanks to Donna for this guest post, which first appeared on her blog (one of my favorites!), My OBT.

My OBT

View original post 174 more words