Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Those Fallen in Service

"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." Calvin Coolidge, 30th President, 1872-1933

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed and first observed at the end of the Civil War, on 30 May, 1868. By 1890 it was recognized by all Northern states and all Southern states after WWI(1919). In Flanders Field a poem written by Canadian physician and Lt. Colonel John McCrae in 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, 22 year old Lt. Alexis Helmer, is often recited during Memorial Day observances. Emotions run deep after hearing this declaimed, and the imagery of poppies stays as a reminder of the blood shed for our liberty.

Poppies became a symbol of Decoration Day, as it was called, after this poem was published in 1915 by Moina Michael:
"We cherish too, the poppy red
That grows on Fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies."
It was Moina who came up with the idea to wear poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving their country during War. Paper poppies were sold to raise money for orphaned children and widows and the tradition spread around the world. In 1922, the Veterans of Foreign War became the first veterans' organization to sell poppies toward this effort.
Beginning in 2000, then President Bill Clinton declared a National Moment of Remembrance, at 3 PM local time to "voluntarily and informally observe a moment of silence, remembrance, and respect." I think this is the very least we can do for these heroes. Attend a parade, visit the cemetery, cry, pray; treat Memorial Day as it is intended to be - a solemn day to think about those gone, and those still fighting. To live our lives in appreciation for the ultimate sacrifices made for our freedom is to truly honor them with THANK YOU....
"This nation will remain the land of the free only as long as it is the home of the brave." Elmer Davis, news reporter, 1890-1958.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

House Portrait Painter - Michael Reyes

1. How did you become a house portrait painter? Is there a particular skill you would say you have?

"I have alway had the ability to draw. As a kid I loved to doodle and draw cartoons. I took mechanical drawing and learned how to technically draw buildings to scale. This skill helps me to sketch the house to scale before I begin painting on paper."

2. How would you describe your work?

"I would say I have a realistic style, yet I try to be as loose as possible to give the painting some feeling...I experiment with different techniques, such as subtle splattering."

3. What are your interests outside of painting?

"I enjoy many sports, love to golf and play softball. I also enjoy cooking, and have been known to serve up a mean calzone or two."

4. Tell us a few things about yourself...your background in drawing/painting as a child, etc.

"I really began to paint seriously about 20 years ago, initially starting with pen and ink house sketches. I had a very positive response to these and I started painting with watercolor for house portraits, and acrylics for landscapes. I did not have any formal training or lessons; just subscribed to American Artist magazine for inspiration and information. Experimenting with techniques along the way helped to develop my style. And, practice, practice, practice is so important. You have to keep working at it. You don't want an architectural have to play with the brush strokes to make it look like a painting."

5. What talent would you like to explore?

"I would like to learn oil painting and possibly paint in a more impressionistic style."

6. What would your colleagues (fellow artists) be surprised to learn about you?

"I am into landscaping and enjoy working outdoors, taking care of trees, shrubs, and flowers. I especially love cutting sod - not!"

7. What most inspires you when you are creating a painting?

"I enjoy painting New England scenes, the ocean, and the coast."

8. What are your creative ambitions and what are some obstacles to those ambitions?

"I would like to have more time to be able to make more portraits...right now I work on two hour or so shifts- with maybe an hour here and there. A big frustration is the lack of enough 'free' time in a day. I tend to work on larger size paintings- 11" x 14" or larger, as they work up faster than the smaller paintings...Some day I would love to have a house on Cape Cod with my own studio space and plenty of time to paint!"

9. What do you most admire in yourself?

"I consider myself a peaceful and happy person. And I believe less is better than more in life. I enjoy making people happy with beautiful portraits of their important investment-their home."
Check out examples of Michael Reyes work at, and for specific details about ordering an original painting.

Monday, May 24, 2010

G is for Glass - Pressed Pattern

Grid and Square pattern, 1908, A.H. Heisey & Co.; Wheat and Barley pattern, 1882, Bryce Bros.

Ball and Swirl pattern, 1894, McKee Bros.

In 1825, Deming Jarvis of the Sandwich Glass Co. of Cape Cod, MA, invented a glass press and a method for creating numerous sets, styles, and patterns of glassware. Hot liquid glass was pressed into cast iron molds to impart a design and the handles were applied separately by hand. The pressed glass from the 1820's is known as lacy glass due to its very intricate patterns. Pressed and Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG) was produced in large quantities in the United States from the 1830's to its heyday from 1870 - 1910. Silicate, which is a derivative of quartz, is the main ingredient and Flint is a type of quartz containing impurities of micro-crystals. (Perfected in England in the 1820's, finer glassware initially contained a powdered flint to improve the clarity.) As a major element in pressed pattern glass, flint has superior light refraction (brilliance), resonance (bell tone when stuck) and a significant heft. The pressed patterns evolved from plain to geometric to ribbed to fancy swirls and were made to be durable for everyday use. Most of the popular patterns were made by more than one company, with variations within each one. Lead oxide was added to the silicate to produce the brilliant glass known as lead crystal (33% lead). After the introduction of lead, flint was eliminated from the glass mix, but the descriptive Flint name remained. In the 1860's the Civil War with its demand for lead ammunition brought changes to the glass industry, and soda lime was found to be a good, inexpensive substitute. In the late 1800's, Pressed Glass began to lose its luster as tastes changed and lead crystal, once again, became popular. It was the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 that highlighted a 'new' Brilliant Glass style which was about to take hold during the Victorian era.

Due to its relative abundant production, EAPG contains literally hundreds of different patterns and pieces, with interesting names such as: Palm Leaf Fan, Daisy and Button, Finecut and Panel, Rose Spring, Bullseye and Diamond Point, Powder and Shot, Feather and Doric, and Diamond Medallion. Many have such subtle differences, it is hard to tell them apart, yet most can be mixed and matched effortlessly to impart a lovely addition that would make any meal feel special.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Graduation - A Rite of Passage

It is that time of year again...Ceremonies with "Pomp and Circumstance", tears and laughter. Graduation certainly marks that transition in life from youthful exuberance to adult temperance. A rite of passage, so to speak, into the real world....Coined by Arnold von Gennep (1873-1957), a French sociologist and folklorist, Rite of Passage includes these three steps:

1. Separation from society
2. Transformation
3. Return to society in the new status

How true to this day...and how cool that the first Baccalaureate Ceremony dates to 1432 at Oxford University, Oxford, England. Students were required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of their advancement and caps were known as hoods, dating to Celtic times when Druid priests wore hooded capes symbolizing superior intelligence over most.!!! The first processional with "Pomp and Circumstance" (composed by Sir Edward Elgar, 1857-1934) occurred in Liverpool, England, 1901, such a very long time ago.

I have participated in a few of these in my life so far...I have smiled, laughed and welled up with tears unexpectedly; a myriad of emotions at once. It is a good thing...It is a lovely time...It is keep calm and carry long...farewell...goodbye...

(This one's for you, Jen; always and forever.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

F is for FIRE KING

Kimberly pattern, Fire King, (1950-1960's)

FIRE KING is a line of kitchenware manufactured in Ohio from the 1940's through the 1970's. Designed to be oven proof, it was one of Anchor Hocking Glass Company's most successful product. Early pieces of Fire King were made from a low expansion borosilicate glass which has a higher thermal resistance than the soda-lime glassware made from the 1980's to the present. Fire King is durable, inexpensive yet attractive utilitarian glass efficiently used for baking, serving, and storing food. Anchor Hocking marked almost all of its Fire King and most of its other lines, including the popular Jade-ite and Peach Lustre. The following list identifies the letter style that indicates production year dates:

FIRE KING (Block) - 1942-1945
OVEN FIRE KING WARE (Block & Script) - mid 1940's - late 1940's
OVEN FIRE KING WARE MADE IN USA - (Script) - 1951-1960
ANCHOR HOCKING OVEN FIRE KING DINNERWARE MADE IN USA (Script) - late 1960's - early 1970's
ANCHOR HOCKING OVEN FIRE KING OVEN PROOF MADE IN USA (Script) - mid 1970's - late 1970's

Blue and Gold Leaf pattern, to coordinate with Biscayne line, Salem China Co., (1898-1968)

Ivory glass, Fire King

Peach Lustre, Fire King

From 1945 - 1963 Fran Taylor owned Gay Fad Studios, a company that hand painted images on blank ovenware purchased from Anchor Hocking Glass, Hazel Atlas Glass, and Federal Glass Companies. Cheery hand decorated designs adorned this utilitarian kitchen ware with pattern names such as Peach Blossom, Chanticleer, Fruits, Primrose and Rosemaling (tulips). Taylor, along with her General Manager husband Bruce, relocated their studio from Detroit to Lancaster OH to be closer to those three major glass companies. Her goal was to remain unique and to keep her company small and true to its artistic roots. "Every Gay Fad will continue to be an original creation - every piece will continue to be decorated by hand. For each contributes to the Gay Fad idea that living can be more pleasant if utilitarian every day objects are given a charm and beauty of their own." Now that is an outstanding mission to be proud of, with its lasting legacy of beautiful yet serviceable quality products Made in the U.S.A.

Peach Blossom Gay Fad pattern, Fire King

Monday, May 3, 2010

Frogs Matter

"We are born princes and the civilizing process makes us frogs." Publilius Syrus, 85-43BC, Roman Philosopher

I have always considered myself a turtle girl....Not the turtleneck girl crooned about by James Taylor, but turtle girl as in lover of those gentle creatures. Lately however, frogs have stolen my heart. Their melodious trills are a delight to any who are fortunate enough to hear them; each species singing and staging a beautiful springtime ballad of love. There are currently eleven species of frogs in New England: Spring Peeper (Pseudocaris crucifer), Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor), American Toad (Bufo americanus), Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrooki), Fowler's Toad (Bufo woodhousei), Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris), Green Frog (Rana chamitans), Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica), Leopard Frog (Rana pipens), Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), and Mink Frog (Rana septentrionalis). Each one playing a specific role in the environment; each one warranting - I Break for Frogs.

Frogs also hold a special place in our home, as many years ago my mother gave my daughter her first 'frog'. Decorative though it was, that gift lived on through her dating life as a symbol and prophecy for her future..."You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince," this based on The Frog Prince fairy tale popularized in the 1800's by the brothers Grimm. And, although we sweetly and adoringly relish the tale and hold it under scrutiny now that her 'handsome prince' has materialized, I step back to critically analyze those endearing amphibians, whose name stems from the Greek 'amphi bius', or, 'double life'. First stage in water; second stage on land. How cool is that!

Frankly, frogs are in trouble and need our help. One in three of the world's 4900 or so species are facing extinction at an alarming rate relative to their 350 million year existence. Water ways and features have been irretrievably altered, increasing UV rays destroy fragile eggs, pesticides and insecticides pollute, and a serious fungus (chytrid) is having a suffocating effect on these animals that breathe through their skin. Less frogs mean a disruption in the food chain with less noxious insects being devoured, and less food available for the snakes, birds and mammals that prey on the frogs.
In the end, suffice it to say, we are all connected and what befalls the lowly frog befalls us all. Science has proven that humans reap great benefits emotionally as well as physically by connecting in some way with the natural world. And so it is my hope your curiosity is piqued and you are encouraged to educate yourselves about these little lovelies, as that is the key to their ultimate salvation..Plus, who doesn't love green?

"I'd kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs." Cameron Diaz, actress
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