the reading blues

“Portrait of Artist’s Wife,” by Pronaszko Zbigniew (1935)

 

I’ve got the reading blues!

I love figurative paintings of readers, and have noted through the years that there are oodles of them. Most of the subjects are women, and many appear to be well-to-do, with the leisure to lounge on plush sofas or perch on uncomfortable chairs near a window, lost in the printed word.

Of course I always wonder what they’re reading and what their daily lives are like. Since I also love books, I feel a decided kinship with them, even though thousands of miles and more than a century may separate us.

Recently, readers dressed in blue have been calling out to me. Perhaps I’m drawn to blue’s peace, calm, and serenity. Spiritually, the color blue symbolizes the healing power of God — much needed in these terribly troubling times. And the readers themselves seem content and contemplative, making me feel better.

In any case, I hope you enjoy gazing at these blue readers, joining them, for just a few minutes, in their fascinating worlds (I also managed to dig up a few men). 🙂

 

“In the Library,” by Auguste Toulmouche (1872)

 

“The Reader Wreathed with Flowers,” by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1845)

 

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a little sweetness goes a long way

 

Happy Spring!

You know what they say, when the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate!!

If you’re self isolating and need a little lift, or you’re in the market for some Easter candy, consider buying your goodies online at Chocolate Chocolate, the DC area’s BEST shop (a family business co-owned by authors Frances Park and Ginger Park).

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Chocolate Chocolate is closing its doors to walk-in trade for now, but they’ll be in the shop between 11-4 p.m. weekdays to fill phone and online orders. If you’re in the DC area, they’re also offering curbside delivery.

Best of all, FREE SHIPPING!! Just use code Freeshipping4u at checkout.

 

Frances Park and Ginger Park at Chocolate Chocolate, Washington, D.C.

 

You may remember when Frances and Ginger dropped by to talk about their delectable memoir, Chocolate Chocolate: The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats, and the Little Shop That Could (Thomas Dunne, 2011), and their unique cookbook, Allergies, Away!: Creative Eats and Mouthwatering Treats for Kids Allergic to Nuts, Dairy, and Eggs (St. Martin’s, 2013).

Did you know you can also order autographed copies of all their books via the Chocolate Chocolate website? Check out their award-winning books here.

As you can see, Mr Cornelius is thrilled with his Easter candy — and the order got here in record time (less than 24 hours). Can’t beat the fast, personalized service. So, don’t fret about going out to the store and risking exposure for any of your chocolate needs. A few clicks, and you’re all set.

Visit Chocolate Chocolate!!


Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

chris neale’s welsh blues

 

 

Come along, Chris Neale seems to say, come along and follow this path by the sea with me.

Today we’re featuring the work of Welsh landscape artist Chris Neale, who, as you can plainly see, has a thing for the color BLUE. *sigh*

Somehow his gorgeous paintings found me; I imagine it was inevitable since the last few years I’ve been thinking blue, believing in blue, and voting blue (hooray for Virginia turning blue on November 5!).

 

 

 

Thought we needed a good blue fix this week, by escaping across the pond to a land far away, to places that have funny sounding names, like Pwll Deri, Carreg Lafain, and Rhosson Ganol. I have no idea how to pronounce any of them, but judging by Neale’s depictions, these spots are likely beautiful in person.

 

 

 

 

Neale’s love of painting began in childhood; he was drawn to the play between blues and ochres early on. Painting, however, remained on the back burner as he studied and then established a career in graphic design, which seemed a much more practical pursuit.

In 2002, he returned to painting, and has been indulging his passion for the Welsh landscape — Pembrokeshire and North Wales in particular — ever since.

 

 

 

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pondering the land of lost things with a poem by robert phillips

 

MY VALHALLA
by Robert Phillips

Forget the Museum of Natural History,
The Metropolitan or The Smithsonian.
The collection I want to wander in
I call The Valhalla of Lost Things.

The Venus de Milo’s arms are here,
she’s grown quite attached to them.
I circle Leonardo’s sixteen-foot-tall
equestrian statue, never cast, browse

all five-hundred-thousand volumes
of The Alexandrian Library, handle
artifacts of Atlantis. Here are all
the ballades and rondeaux of Villon,

the finished score of The Unfinished
Symphony, I read all of Edwin Drood
and Answered Prayers. I’ll screen ten
missing reels of Von Stroheim’s Greed,

hear the famous gap in Nixon’s tapes.
There are lost things here so lost,
no one knows they were lost — manuscripts
by the unknown Kafka, far greater

than Kafka’s, his best friend obeyed,
shredded every sheet. The cure for cancer
is here: The inventor didn’t recognize,
the potion went unpatented . . .

In my museum no guard shushes me
for talking, there are no closing times,
it’s always free. Here I can see
what no one living has seen, I satisfy

that within me which is not whole.
Here I am curator not of what is,
but of what should have been,
and what should be.

~ from What Have You Lost?, poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow Books, 1999)

 

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chihiro iwasaki’s charming and lively watercolors

 

Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974) is one of the most celebrated Japanese artists/illustrators in the world. She’s as popular and beloved in her home country as Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, or Garth Williams is in America.

 

 

She’s known for her soft, delicate, flowing watercolors of children and flowers, centering around the theme of “peace and happiness for children.” Her artistic style is a distinctive blend of Western watercolor strokes and traditional Eastern painting techniques. She sometimes incorporated Japanese calligraphy in her work.

 

 

 

 

 

I only discovered Iwasaki’s work recently; her pictures called out to me just when I needed them most. They’re certainly a welcome balm for difficult times. I love the gentleness and innocence, the rich beauty and wistfulness in her paintings, and how brilliantly she captures the emotions and posturings of babies, toddlers, and grade school kids.

 

 

 

 

She published about 40 books and made over 8000 drawings in her lifetime. She was a Hans Christian Andersen fan, and illustrated several of his tales which were published in English.

 

 

 

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