December Offerings – Part XVI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Agnes Martin

Died 16 December 2004 – Agnes Martin, a Canadian-American abstract expressionist painter.

Below (left to right) – “Falling Blue”; “Desert Rain”; “With My Back to the World”; “Starlight”; “The Island”; “Gratitude.”

Born 16 December 1916 – Theo Bitter, a Dutch painter.

Below (left to right) – “Interior (the painter’s studio)”; “Table with Toys”; “My Studio”; “Family Portrait, My Parents”; “Portrait of a Seated Woman”; untitled; “Blue Table with Portrait, Tea Cloth, and Alarm Clock.”

From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Ludwig van Beethoven

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer and pianist, who was born 16 December 1770.

A lovely rendition of a Beethoven classic:

Honduran painter Juan Ramon Lainez (born 1939) studied in both the National University of Fine Arts in Tegucigalpa and the San Fernando Academy of Madrid.



Died 16 December 1928 – Elinor Wylie, an American poet and novelist. In the words of one critic, “She was famous during her life almost as much for her ethereal beauty and personality as for her melodious, sensuous poetry.”

“Sea Lullaby”

The old moon is tarnished 

With smoke of the flood, 

The dead leaves are varnished 

With colour like blood. 

A treacherous smiler 

With teeth white as milk, 

A savage beguiler 

In sheathings of silk 

The sea creeps to pillage, 

She leaps on her prey; 

A child of the village 

Was murdered today. 

She came up to meet him 

In a smooth golden cloak, 

She choked him and beat him 

to death, for a joke. 

Her bright locks were tangled, 

She shouted for joy 

With one hand she strangled 

A strong little boy. 

Now in silence she lingers 

Beside him all night 

To wash her long fingers 

In silvery light.


Russian painter Misha Pivovarov graduated from Kazan State University in 1989.

From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Jimi Hendrix

16 December 1966 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases its first single, “Hey Joe,” in the United Kingdom.

Here is the Artist Statement of Brazilian painter Tania Leal: “I have been drawing since I was a child. It seemed easier and more interesting to me to communicate with the world using traces and colours. These traces and colours have been the joy of my life. They are the ones who full fill me and give me the chance to share with friends the most intense feelings.
I like people. I have already painted things, animals, flowers and landscapes, but it is the human being that fascinates me. I like the looks, the gestures, the movements. These are the things I try to capture.
Through these looks, gestures and movements I see the hope, sadness and loneliness of mankind. Women that love, suffer, simple people, eyes lost in memories and dreams. Men behind their truths and illusions.
These are the constant elusive moments that I offer you with my work.”


“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” – Jane Austen, English novelist and author of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma,” who was born 16 December 1775.

Some quotes from the work of Jane Austen:

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”
“The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”

Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Laurence Kell: “My interest in painting portraits became the main focus in 2003, while I was helping to run the family business. We ran a Georgian hotel/ restaurant located on the wild north coast of Cornwall. I painted in my room and used the hotel as a gallery for my work. One of these paintings was a portrait of the chef which was exhibited at the BP Portrait awards at the National Portrait Gallery.
Since then I have exhibited regularly with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at the Mall Galleries and have been commissioned by London Business School and Bristol University as well as painting numerous private portraits.”
Laurence Kell

Self-taught Spanish painter Adela Abos was born in Zaragoza.

From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Don McLean

16 December 1971 – Don McLean releases the eight-minute version of “American Pie.”

American Art – Part II of IV: Jeannie McGuire

In the words of one writer, “Jeannie McGuire, a Pittsburgh-based watercolor artist, strives to invoke individual interpretation through her artwork, which impressively utilizes a free application of paint and stylistic forms of expression. McGuire uses her own photography, acquired snapshots and life drawings to spark her creativity. Her work has been described as a brilliant combination of emotion, movement, natural design, and sheer artistry that has been expanded upon from her days as a commercial graphic designer and photographer. Impressionistic in nature with an identifiable subject, her strong, figurative approaches are unique in more ways than one.”


“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” – Arthur C. Clarke, British science fiction writer, undersea explorer, television series host, science writer, inventor, and co-writer of the screenplay for the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” who was born 16 December 1917.

Some quotes from the work of Arthur C. Clarke:

“One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn’t require religion at all.”
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.
“How inappropriate to call this planet ‘Earth,’ when it is clearly ‘Ocean.’”
“Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.”
“It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.”
“In my life I have found two things of priceless worth – learning and loving. Nothing else – not fame, not power, not achievement for its own sake – can possible have the same lasting value. For when your life is over, if you can say ‘I have learned’ and ‘I have loved,’ you will also be able to say ‘I have been happy.’”
“I am an optimist. Anyone interested in the future has to be otherwise he would simply shoot himself.”
“Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.”
“A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.”
“Science is the only religion of mankind.”
“This is the first age that’s ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one.”
“I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. ”
“The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be.”


American Art – Part III of IV: Maureen Hyde

Artist Statement: “I began my art career in the publishing field as an illustrator for children’s picture books and cover art for historical novels. My interest in the classical foundations of art lead me to study with Daniel Graves, the director of the Florence Academy of Art. I am currently teaching at the academy, where a rich heritage originating from the Renaissance and revival of the humanist tradition is kept alive.
My painting is approached in pursuit of fine craftsmanship and draughtsmanship. The colors, which are hand ground, and materials used are based on centuries of applied wisdom.
In living and working in Florence, Italy my creative spirit feels at home. The warmth of the human touch in the handmade aspects of living gives visual credence to a realization that pleasure comes from simple things.
I am also surrounded by a rich cultural presentation of timeless masterpieces, which keeps my own relationship with my work honest. The light and natural beauty of the Italian landscape is providing me a lifetime of inspiration. I am engaged in an endless dance, chasing and choreographing light as it illuminates the natural world with glimpses of beauty.”

aStaffordMuse1 copy

A Poem for Today

“A Message from the Wanderer,”
By William Stafford

Today outside your prison I stand
and rattle my walking stick: Prisoners, listen;
you have relatives outside. And there are
thousands of ways to escape.

Years ago I bent my skill to keep my
cell locked, had chains smuggled to me in pies,
and shouted my plans to jailers;
but always new plans occurred to me,
or the new heavy locks bent hinges off,
or some stupid jailer would forget
and leave the keys.

Inside, I dreamed of constellations—
those feeding creatures outlined by stars,
their skeletons a darkness between jewels,
heroes that exist only where they are not.

Thus freedom always came nibbling my thought,
just as—often, in light, on the open hills—
you can pass an antelope and not know
and look back, and then—even before you see—
there is something wrong about the grass.
And then you see.

That’s the way everything in the world is waiting.

Now—these few more words, and then I’m
gone: Tell everyone just to remember
their names, and remind others, later, when we
find each other. Tell the little ones
to cry and then go to sleep, curled up
where they can. And if any of us get lost,
if any of us cannot come all the way—
remember: there will come a time when
all we have said and all we have hoped
will be all right.

There will be that form in the grass.
aStaffordMuse2 copy

American Art – Part IV of IV: Jane Aukshunas

Artist Statement: “The soothing and regenerative power of nature has had a profound influence on me throughout my life. I find a deep sense of serenity in the natural world. As an artist, I attempt to convey that by capturing the serenity that is so often lacking in our frantic mobile phone and email culture. That many of my works are displayed in hospitals and the offices of health professionals leads me to believe that I have captured that essence of tranquility and that the feeling tones in my art help to soothe people’s emotions.
I live in the Northwest in a region with diverse terrain that is rich with what may be the widest variety of crops in the world. Consequently there is much in my environment to inspire the landscapes I create.
Imbued at once with both a lush sensuality and an edgy geometry, my colorful, graphic landscapes hearken back to the 1930s’ mid western regionalist style of such artists as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. My work has been likened to ‘Grant Wood on acid.’ In my use of color, I identify with the early 1900s European artists who were dubbed the Fauves (wild beasts) whose leading member was Henri Matisse.
I use thick applications of richly colored oil pastels to create works reflecting my love of rhythm, music, and movement. Vibrant color and sensuality of line give my work a playful and contemporary feeling. Maybe because my formal art education is rooted in design, I like to pare down the world around me to the essential elements, shapes, and colors that are the crux of my imagery.
I want my art to grab people, to get an emotional hold on them. Because I feel spiritually and emotionally well-balanced, I place a high value on calm, order, and beauty.”
Distant Vineyard

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