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

American Art – Part I of IV: Kelly Birkenruth

In the words of one writer, “Kelly Birkenruth’s captivating paintings are in the style of contemporary realism while staying firmly grounded in the tradition of the Old Masters. She is able to pull the viewer into her paintings by interweaving emotion with a humanistic quality through her supreme handling of light. Through her portraits she is able to evoke sensitivity and empathy, which in turn allows her to create images which transcend mere representation to capture the true essence of her subject. Kelly’s arresting compositions, draftmanship, use of color and observation of detail allow her to create paintings with a timeless quality.”

In the words of one art historian, “Vadim Klevenskiy was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (formerly USSR) in 1964. Throughout his schooling years, Klevenskiy was always involved in education that focused on art and its many forms. He has received much training and inspiration through various professors and art institutions, notably Professor Alexander Borisov at the Institute of Cinematography and Shavkat Abdusalamov a professor and artist. Vadim graduated from college with a degree in Teaching of Drawing and Painting from the Republic College of Art in Moldavia and with a degree in Art Design of Feature Films and TV from the All- Russian Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, Russia.
Vadim has an art style unlike any other seen, though there are strong hints of styles that he wanted to bring out from his favorite masters: Van Gogh, Goya, Rubens, and Giotto. Similar to these masters, Klevenskiy uses intense contrast in colors and shapes to astound the eye.”

Below – “Ocean Dance”; “Gardenias in a Glass Vase”; “Fond Memories”; “Breaking Waves”; “Three Roses.”

Born 23 December 1790 – Jean-Francois Champollion, a French scholar, philologist, orientalist, and decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the words of one historian, “Champollion published the first translation of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822, showing that the Egyptian writing system was a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs.”

Russian artist Anna Vinogradova (born 1975) has been a member of the St. Petersburg Branch of Russia’s Union of Artists since 2008. Her paintings are in private collections in Russia, the United States, China, Germany, France, Japan, and Holland.

Here is the Artist Statement of Meirion Alan Ginsberg: “Born (1985) and raised in North Wales, I have tried to take an approach that is completely different to the traditional or stereotypical Welsh paintings, which are landscapes.
My work is more of an autobiography, using friends and family and sometimes a Dadaist mish-mash where humour is injected. Influenced by a huge range of painters from Willem DeKooning to Rembrandt, I use a versatility of mark making which leaves some of the work borderline figurative and abstract.
Norman Rockwell and Frances Bacon became my favourite painters. Even today I use elements of these two artists although my knowledge and influence has expanded from the days of finding these treasures.
Humour plays a big part in my work, but this seems to be mellowed out by the intuitive construction of my paintings. I am a strong believer of improvisation and risk taking which are two strong elements in my mind that strengthen my ideas and skill. In university I tried to move away from the traditional, but always seemed to come back to it in subtle ways. Versatility plays a big part of my work and hopefully will continue to do so.”

From the Cinema Archives: The Keystone Kops

23 December 1912 – “Hoffmeyer’s Legacy,” the first film in which the Keystone Kops make an appearance, premieres in the United States. However, the popularity of these comically incompetent policemen stemmed from the 1913 short “The Bangville Police,” starring Mabel Normand.

Canadian Art – Part I of II: Liane Abrieu

Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian Painter Liane Abrieu: “I would like for my paintings to be perceived as a poetry for the eyes, one which would bring serenity, harmony, beauty to the daily life of people. Then I will be able to say that my work had a reason for being.”
© Liane Abrieu
© Liane Abrieu
© Liane Abrieu
© Liane Abrieu

Canadian Art – Part II of II: Yousuf Karsh

“Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can.” – Yousuf Karsh, Armenian-Canadian photographer and one of the most accomplished portrait photographers of all time, who was born on 23 December 1908.

Below – Some of Yousuf Karsh’s famous portraits.


“Next to excellence is the appreciation of it.” – William Makepeace Thackeray, English satirical novelist and author of “Vanity Fair,” who died 23 December 1863.

Some quotes from William Makepeace Thackeray:

“It is only hope which is real, and reality is a bitterness and a deceit.”
“I never knew whether to pity or congratulate a man on coming to his senses.”
“Kindnesses are easily forgotten; but injuries! what worthy man does not keep those in mind?
“Let a man who has to make his fortune in life remember this maxim: Attacking is the only secret. Dare and the world yields, or if it beats you sometimes, dare it again and you will succeed.”
“Do not be in a hurry to succeed. What would you have to live for afterwards?” “Better make the horizon your goal; it will always be ahead of you.”
“I would rather make my name than inherit it.”
“People hate as they love, unreasonably.”
“The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.”
“There are many sham diamonds in this life which pass for real, and vice versa.”
“When I walk with you I feel as if I had a flower in my buttonhole.”

In the words of one writer, “Jan Williamson is a professional artist who lives on the Sunshine Coast Queensland, and specialises in portraiture and figurative works. As a mother of nine children, she understands the innocence of children wholly absorbed in their own play and oblivious to the world around them, and this is reflected in her work.
Jan is a self-taught artist working mainly in oils, and her ‘people’ paintings capture the spirit and essence of the subjects. Her work is widely hung in Australia and overseas.”

American Art – Part II of IV: Stanley Maxwell Brice

In the words of one writer, “A well-known still-life artist, Stanley Maxwell Brice goes far beyond painting beautiful florals, vases and linencloths; his works are simply mesmerizing.
Often referred to as trompe l’oeil, the effect of his paintings live up to this technique’s French appellation, meaning ‘deception of the eye.’ So photographically realistic, the ‘illusionism’ common in Brice’s works often fools the viewer into thinking that the objects or scene represented are real rather than painted. Brice’s attention to detail is so accurate, that one has the impression of gazing through a magnifying glass. Being able to see the most minute particulars of the subject, the veins of a rose petal, the droplets of moisture on a leaf, the bulbous base of a silver tea pot and the reflections of a room revealed in its spout, or even the lustrous quality of silk drapes. No matter what the subject may be, its image simply caresses Brice’s canvas.
Unlike most still-life painters, every composition that Brice creates arises from his imagination. He never uses props, and when he begins a painting, he primes his canvas to achieve a smooth, glassy texture. Brice then sketches in the subject with a pencil. Whether it is a plump fruit, graceful flowers, a fluted champagne glass or a streamlined vase, the detail is already apparent. Next, the artist paints the background. Depending on his “feel” for the piece, Brice may start at the top. middle, or bottom (he has no formula by which he paints). Working with small brushes ad a wide-range of colors, the artist painstakingly covers the canvas inch by inch, compromising nothing. The result is a breathtaking, incredibly unique composition.”


Born 23 December 1860 – Harriet Monroe, an American poet, patron of the arts, scholar, literary critic, and founding publisher and long-time editor of “Poetry” magazine. In the words of one scholar, “As a supporter of the poets Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, H. D., T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg and others, she played an important role in the development of modern poetry.”

“A Farewell”

Good-bye!—no, do not grieve that it is over,
The perfect hour;
That the winged joy, sweet honey-loving rover,
Flits from the flower.

Grieve not—it is the law. Love will be flying—
Yes, love and all.
Glad was the living—blessed be the dying.
Let the leaves fall.


Here is the Artist Statement of German painter Manfred Honig (born 1961):
“Interested in painting since I could hold a pen, I started things in earnest in the seventies, picking up knowledge from other artists, during a stretch as a guest student at the Nuremberg Academy of fine Arts and various holiday classes. So I am more or less an autodidactic painter. Being interested in landscape painting, I was inspired by traveling in the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Morocco, Nepal, India, Australia, Scotland, Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, and Norway.”

American Art – Part III of IV: Melissa Hefferlin

Artist Statement: “I paint to interpret and preserve the spirit of experiences which have meaning to me. Three reoccurring themes are gender roles, the innate humor of life and the personalities of farm animals as metaphor for, and participants in, human experience. I am a lover of still life. My favorite tool is color. The brighter, bolder, and more luminous the better.”

A Poem for Today

“Before the ice is in the pools,”
By Emily Dickinson

Before the ice is in the pools—
Before the skaters go,
Or any check at nightfall
Is tarnished by the snow—

Before the fields have finished,
Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder upon wonder
Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of
On a summer’s day—
What is only walking
Just a bridge away—

That which sings so—speaks so—
When there’s no one here—
Will the frock I wept in
Answer me to wear?

American Art – Part IV of IV: Jeremy Mann

In the words of one writer, “Jeremy Mann holds a Cum Laude BFA from Ohio University and an MFA with valedictorian honor from Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In his creative practice, Mann aims to imbue his city, San Francisco, with drama, mood, and personality. He paints his immediate surroundings with intimate, dynamic expression. A number of his compositions are inspired by wet pavement that reflects street lamps and neon signs and glitters in the rain.”


Friends: Since my youngest son is in town for the holidays, I will not be posting for the next week or so. It is my parental responsibility to spend time humbling the lad in a variety of sports (especially disc golf) and games. Admittedly, doing so won’t take much effort on my part, but he needs to be reminded anew that fathers are nearly always the athletic and intellectual masters of their sons.

Below – My “Disc of Doom.” The youthful upstart trembles at the thought of it.

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