Art Appreciation: Winslow Homer’s The Guide

Art appreciation
The Guide by Winslow Homer, 1895

By about 1890, however, Homer left narrative behind to concentrate on the beauty, force, and drama of the sea itself. In their dynamic compositions and richly textured passages, his late seascapes capture the look and feel (and even suggest the sound) of masses of onrushing and receding water. For Homer’s contemporaries, these were the most extravagantly admired of all his works. They remain among his most famous today, appreciated for their virtuoso brushwork, depth of feeling, and hints of modernist abstraction.

H. Barbara Weinberg
Dept of American Paintings & Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I too yearn for the good old days in America when a man could take his canoe out into the water, find a nice hard rock and then smoke his pipe peacefully.

All while not wearing any pants. There is nothing as free, as liberating, as American as feeling the cool breeze coming off the river directly onto your exposed nether regions.

This is what we have lost in our technology sophisticated go, go, go world of tomorrow. Thankfully Homer was there to capture this simpler, freer time. When men were men and often spent a hot summer afternoon, alone and aloof from his fellow man contemplating the beauty of nature while fully exposed to it.

What a time to be alive!

(I’m not the only person who thinks this guy isn’t wearing any pants, right?)

Art Appreciation: Gérôme’s The Tulip Folly

The Tulip Folly
Jean-Leon Gérôme’s The Tulip Folly
This is my tulip. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My tulip is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My tulip, without me, is useless. Without my tulip, I am useless. I must tend my tulip true. I must grow it straighter than my enemy who is trying to grow his. I must sell my bulbs before he sells his. I will…
My tulip and I know that what counts in war is not the blossoms we bloom, the color of our petals, nor the smell we make. We know that it is the bulbs that count. We will bulb…
My tulip is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its stamen and its pistil. I will keep my tulip watered and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…
Before God, I swear this creed. My tulip and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is Netherlands’ and there is no enemy, but peace!

Making Restaurant Passports

What you'll need!
What you’ll need!

D and I some times have trouble deciding where to eat when we go out for dinner. There is a lot of back and forth and statements, declarations, and assertions of “not caring,” or “up for anything.” This usually dissolves into both of us shrugging our shoulders and then going to one of the three restaurants we always went to…

D is not a fan of this system.

She saw some where on-line the idea of a food passport: a small book filled with a list of the restaurants in your town and the surrounding area you want to eat at or you have not yet been to. Instead of having the same old conversation over and over you just flip open your passport and go! Not being too fond of our current system I seconded the notion of making our own. For the passports I picked up a three pack of Moleskine’s unlined chap books. Next, I used a straight edge to draw out the lines for each page of the passport. The page was divided into three parts the upper 2/3 is blank, the bottom third divided vertically for making comments or stamping once the restaurant had been frequented.


With the passports laid out D and I next went through our town local wiki and wrote down all of the restaurants we had not yet been to and wanted to make sure we visited. The list came to 37. I didn’t think there were nearly that many restaurants in town but these were just the ones we had never been too?! With the list drawn up I sat down to start adding some charm and personality to the passports. Using crayons, remember when I bought those, I started doodling whatever came to mind when I read the names of the restaurants. I tried to portray in some way the nature of the place or the food provided there.



Of the 37 restaurants I’ve drawn up 16 so far. There are a lot of Thai and Indian places in Davis. It is not easy to draw, using crayons, Thai or Indian food… I’m sure I’ll figure out something…

D seems pretty excited about starting to use the passports. I’ll admit I am too! Once I finish all the art and/or once start “getting visas” from the restaurants I’ll post some more pictures.

Stamp Making

The completed FalseLogic stamp print

Remember in Art class in high school the unit you did on prints? The teacher stood at the front of the class and talked a little about print making; she made sure to mention woodblock prints and silk screening, the fact that woodcuts are reversals of the image you want and that you need to cut out the negative space… She might have mentioned something about good design. At the end of the lecture though the teacher handed out something she called linoleum but was really E-Z-Cut and some sharp objects with which you could carve it up. You then did so and at the end of class you rolled some ink on the block of E-Z-Cut and made some prints. It was a lot of fun and educational. What?! You didn’t take Art in school? Too bad. You could have learned a lot in an art class. Welp, now you know just some of what you were missing! (we also did a nude study and played with oil paints!)

Sketching out some ideas for my first stamp. The one on the bottom left is the one I decided to go with

I was thinking about art class last weekend and about those old print lessons. My town has a decent art supply store and on a whim I decided to make myself a stamp. At first I thought I’d do something fancy like a hanko seal but then I realized I didn’t have the delicate carving tools necessary for one nor did I really want to spend the additional $ to get them. I can always make one later, as the E-Z Cut blocks are quite large. I decided a simple stamp would be best to start with, especially so because I only had an x-acto knife to work with. The first step was to get some ideas on paper. I decided to do a 1-inch square stamp and because I couldn’t think of anything to do I just did an ‘f’ and an ‘l’ (for FalseLogic). After I sketched out a couple of variants I picked one and went over it with black marker. You really have to lay the ink on thick if you’re going to get it to transfer. Once you’re stamp design is drawn and inked press it on to the block and rub it in, without moving the paper around.

The stamp cut out and the design transferred over to it. Once the design is on the stamp you can go over it again. Make sure the lines are all clearly defined. You don't want to accidentally cut any parts out because of a faint line...

Now comes the hard part! Well, the hard part if you only have a razor blade, box cutter, or x-acto knife. If you have some actual lino-cut tools you’ll be in much better shape. I didn’t and I ended up cutting out part of my border and had quite the time removing the cut portions of the block. The actual tools are U-shaped and remove the block as you cut it. I had to get creative… Anyway. You want to cut out all the parts of the block that you don’t want to hold ink. For my stamp it was the white area. I carefully began cutting out the block, being especially careful between the border and the top of the ‘F’ and between the two letters. This step is by far the most time consuming; You want to go slow and not making any mistakes though. One bad cut and you’ll have to start all over.

The completed stamp. As you can see the top part of the border got cut off. I used some modelling glue to re-attach it. I admit it isn't very pretty and the cross on my 'f' is barely visible.

After I cut out all the white I went back in and tried to clean up all the lines and increase the depth of the cut. I wanted to make sure that the only thing that would transfer ink would be the black marked parts of the stamp. It didn’t take long and I only cut off one tiny part of the stamp (easily fixed.) Once that was all done I cleaned up the stamp removing any excess black ink and all the little bits and pieces of E-Z-Cut block. Then came the moment of truth. I didn’t have any of the fancy print inks (their quite thick and you’re supposed to roll them onto the stamp block.) I did have an ink pad though and it worked fine, the stamp came out a little more textured than I thought it would; I suspect that is because the stamp block doesn’t absorb any of the ink as a normal stamp would. I think it turned out good, you’ve seen the end result at the top of this post.

I’m hopeful about my next attempt. I might even attempt a more complicated design or one that at minimum more people would recognize.


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