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3 posts from June 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Glen's Graduation & Glory


Yes, Glen got all the glory today.  He graduated from Elementary school and is now moving on to Middle school.  He'll be a big boy - a 6th grader!  We are so proud of him! 


I homeschooled Sarah until she started high school and she has done fantastic and will be graduating next year.  I homeschooled Matthew until this year, and he will be starting high school in the fall.  As for Glen, though, I homeschooled him until this past school year. 


Glen, we discovered 3 years ago, has Asperger's, and keeping him focused on his schoolwork was becoming more and more difficult.  He was definitely learning and was above his reading level and math level, but he needed something more and I did not feel qualified to give him the education I knew he needed with the oversight that I felt he needed.  In other words, I could not sit with him and look over his shoulder with every assignment.  My children work independently more often than not, so this was becoming a problem.


After looking into what options were available at our public school, we discovered that North Carolina and our County work hand-in-hand to help children with specific needs, and after weeks of filling out paperwork, testing Glen, and having multiple meetings with Glen's teacher and counselor's at his school, we were able to create a curriculum for Glen, together with private tutoring at the school for what will be his entire academic career all the way through high school.  We were thrilled.


Not only did Glen do excellent in this program designed just for him, but he has excelled in ways I never thought possible.  He took his EOG (End of Grade) exams in the last 2 weeks and we were concerned, of course.  Glen has a habit of saying he has studied or he knows "this stuff" and yet, we're not completely convinced. 

But, were we ever surprised when Glen got his EOG scores and knocked it out of the park in all areas - Math, Science, Reading, and Language Arts.  He got higher scores in all areas more so than most of the other students in his class.  Go Glen!  (And that is what his teacher told us!) 


So today was graduation day for Glen.  We are so proud of him and he looked proud of himself too. 

Funny thing is, is that after the graduation ceremony, his classmates signed his yearbook, and he signed theirs too.  When he showed it to me, I couldn't help but laugh "that little stinker" because all these girls signed his yearbook and put hearts and wrote things like "You're Awesome" or "Call Me" and one girl wrote her name in big letters in his yearbook and her number just as big under her name!!  Now that was bold!  Glen was smiling ear-to-ear and I had him show me the girl's picture.  She's pretty!  That little stinker.  I had no idea he was such a lady's man until I read the comments in his yearbook.  Go figure.


He is off to new adventures and I must admit I am dreading the middle school years, but then again, maybe Glen will surprise us all once again and knock it out of the park.  That smile of his could melt mountains.

I'm so proud! : )


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Art and Inspiration in the Movies

I find inspiration in many places, but I enjoy time spent with my family in the evenings watching a movie.  As an artist, I especially enjoy movies that inspire me to grow as an artist.  So, I wanted to share with you a collection of my favorite movies that are not only inspiring for the artist, but great for the family as well.  

Local Color is for everyone who dares to dream. A fantastic movie!  

LocalColor Artist and Director, George Gallo, looks back with loving memories on the summer of his defining year as an artist.  The year in this movie is 1974 in the suburb of Port Chester, New York, as a young, talented, but troubled 18 y/o artist "John Talia" befriends a brilliant and elderly alcoholic Russian painter, Nicoli Seroff.  When Nicoli travels to the countryside in Pennsylvania for the summer, he invites John to go with him to teach him how to paint.  Together, these two give each other a priceless gift of respect and friendship.  John learns to see the world through this master's eyes, and the master, Nicoli, learns to see life through the eyes of innocence once again.  This story is based on a real life experience of artist and director, George Gallo, and is one of the best movies I've seen.  I absolutely loved it.


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Devine Entertainment and HBO, put together The Artist's Specials and I have yet to bore of seeing these movies over and over again.  I love them and find them to be funny and inspiring. Even my kids and Big Bear enjoy seeing them over and over again.  I recommend this collection of movies for every artist.  


This collection includes 6 movies, each about a different master artist:

ArtistSpecialsCollection Degas and the Dancer

Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist

Monet: Shadow and Light

Goya: Awakened in a Dream

Rembrandt: Fathers & Sons, and

Winslow Homer: An American Original

Each of these movies will inspire you and you will enjoy them over and over again.  Here are a few trailers from this collection:

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MaidenHeistMovie The Maiden Heist may not necessarily be inspiring for artists like the movies above, but it sure is funny.   My artist friend, Jeremy Lipking, painted the "Maiden" - the painting that is the subject of this movie, and he did a fantastic job.  The painting is beautiful, but then again, so are all of Jeremy's paintings.  Also in this movie is actor, Marcia Gay Harden, a high school friend of Bob's and mine from Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, Maryland who we've watched grow and develop as an academy award winning actress over the years.  Who knew, right? 



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PollocktheMovie Pollock. Artist Jackson Pollock revolutionized American painting in the 1940's with his exciting abstract paintings that used dripped and splattered paint on large canvases, very much like Pablo Picasso revolutionized art in the early 20th century.  While Pollock became a heroic figure in the art world, his private life was nothing to envy, and this biography looks at both his professional triumphs and personal tragedies. This movie also stars actor Marcia Gay Harden as Pollock's wife.  Ed Harris plays the part of artist Jackson Pollock.



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Frida Frida.  This movie is a biographical account of the Mexican surrealist pioneer artist Frida Kahlo, who channeled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work.  Frida Kahlo is visually stunning, not only in portraying her life but in bringing several of her most famous paintings to life on the screen. Salma Hayek performs beautifully in the title role.  Mostly, I believe this film leaves us with an understanding that we can all overcome pain and tragedy in our own life if we pursue what we are passionate about.


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LustforLifeMovie Lust for Life. 1956 Kirk Douglas plays the archetypical tortured but genius artist, Vincent Van Gogh. His obsession with painting, combined with mental illness, propels him through an unhappy life filled with failures and unrewarding relationships. He fails at being a preacher to coal miners; he fails at his relationships with women; and, he ultimately fails at life itself, but Van Gogh earns respect among his fellow painters, especially Paul Gauguin, even though he does not get along with Gauguin or others. He manages to sell one painting in his lifetime. We learn that the one constant good in Van Gogh's life is his brother Theo, who is unwavering in his moral and financial support.  An excellent movie and a must see for everyone.

This is a film so rich in visual imagery (with a Technicolor 'palette' that attempts to recreate Van Gogh's view of his world), that it demands repeated viewings, just to savor the details. From wheat fields 'aflame' in color, to night skies that nearly writhe in waves of darkness, the elemental nature of the artist's vision is spectacularly captured. In experiencing the world through Van Gogh's eyes, the loving, yet uncomprehending concern of his brother, Theo, played by James Donald, and more hedonistic, shallow patronizing, and gradual disgust of fellow artist Paul Gauguin, played by Anthony Quinn, in his Oscar-winning performance, become elemental 'barriers', as well.  

Kirk Douglas never plunged as deeply into a portrayal as he did, in "Lust for Life," and the experience nearly crushed him, as he related in his autobiography, "Ragman's Son."

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VincentandTheo Vincent and Theo.  Another, more recent movie about Vincent Van Gogh (1990), but this one also focuses on his relationship with his brother, Theo. This movie of the life of Van Gogh is good, unfortunately, the script misses the real drama of this important artist's life. But never mind that. The real art of the film is in two achievements:

Altman frames and colors his shots through Vincent's eyes. This is the most sensitive use of the cinematic palette I've seen, and makes the experience singular. Time Roth interprets Van Gogh wonderfully. If you ignore the lines, which are vapid, and concentrate on his being, it's quite nuanced. He is meek in body, but passionate in expression.


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VanGoghBrushwithGenius Van Gogh: A Brush with Genius
.  Dive into the heart of Van Gogh's paintings. For the first time, discover in IMAX the fantastic colors and passionate brushwork of a great genius as they take on a new life before our eyes. Relive Vincent's life journey through his letters, see the places that inspired him, and the paintings. The film retraces the artist's footsteps, leading us through the painter's subject matter and sources of inspiration. From the Netherlands, to Arles, to Saint Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise, we rediscover the places and landscapes that have inspired some of the most essential works in art history. From the dazzling yellow of the cornfields to the deep blue of the sky, the entire palette of one of our most flamboyant painters explodes to light up the screen.


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GeorgiaOKeeffe Georgia O'Keeffe
.  Star-studded movie about the famous artist, Georgia O'Keeffe. Celebrated photographer and art impresario Alfred Steiglitz (Jeremy Irons) is shocked to learn that the extraordinary drawings he has recently discovered were rendered by a woman. Deciding to display the work of then-unknown artist Georgia O’Keeffe (Joan Allen) in his gallery without her knowledge, the fiercely private artist orders him to remove the collection. Once Alfred convinces her to allow him to become her benefactor and to champion her artistry, their relationship evolves as they fall deeply in love. Alfred leaves his wife for Georgia, but soon finds her rising star is poised to eclipse his light. As their relationship suffers, Alfred finds twisted ways to emotionally wound her, including taking a younger lover. Georgia’s search for solace moves her west, where she finds new inspiration for her paintings – and ultimately her own voice – in the New Mexico landscape.

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Modigliani Modigliani.  This is a work of fiction based on real artist Amedeo Modigliani who was a painter and a sculptor.  Andy Garcia stars as the painter Modigliani, an Italian Jew, who has fallen in love with Jeanne, a beautiful Catholic girl. The couple have an illegitimate child, and Jeanne's bigoted parents send the baby to a faraway convent to be raised by nuns. Modigliani is distraught and needs money to rescue and raise his child. The answer arrives in Paris' annual art competition. Prize money and a guaranteed career await the winner. Modigliani and his dearest friend and rival Pablo Picasso believe that competitions are beneath true artists like themselves, but with the welfare of his child on the line, Modigliani signs up. Picasso follows suit and soon Paris is aflutter with excitement over the outcome. 

In real life, Modigliani bounced between France and his native Italy as his ever deteriorating health dictated, the deterioration of his health caused by a life of bad choices. Andy Garcia does an outstanding job playing the part of Modigliani and really throws himself and his years of experience into this role and brings his character to life. Elsa Zylberstein who plays the love in Modigliani's life, Jeanne, does equally as well in telling her characters story.  A great movie.


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GirlwithPearlEarring Girl with a Pearl Earring.  You wouldn't think a movie could look like a Vermeer painting, but Girl with a Pearl Earring is filmed with an amazing range of luminous glows that evoke the Dutch artist's masterworks. Of course, it helps that much of the movie centers on Scarlett Johansson who plays Griet, the maid with the Pearl earring who poses for Vermeer (played by Colin Firth) in his household.  Griet finds herself in a web of jealousy, artistic inspiration, and social machinations. Though the pace is slow, Girl with a Pearl Earring genuinely conveys some sense of this artist's process, as well as offering many chaste yet sensual moments between Firth and Johansson. Also featuring Essie Davis as Vermeer's bitter wife and Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) as a wealthy patron with eyes for Griet.  A very good movie about the inspiration for Vermeer's famous painting.

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SurvivingPicasso Surviving Picasso. Directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, the same two who gave us "Howard's End". This story tells of Picasso's (Anthony Hopkins) relationship with his mistress Francoise Gilot (Natasha McElhone), who was the mother to two of Picasso's children. The movie also introduces us to a number of the other women who encircled Picasso's life during the time of their relationship, including Olga Picasso (Jane Lapotaire), Dora Maar (Julianne Moore), Marie-theses Walter(Susannah Harker), and Jacquueline Rogue (Diane Verona), and some of his artist friends, such as Henri Matisse. The movie is an intimate and believable account of Picasso's life right down to details of the artist's paintings and the moments where he is creating his works of art. The producers may have had a great deal of trouble getting any rights to show Picasso's paintings but it doesn't show except for the fact that his more famous works are not illustrated. Great care was taken to show believable works of art as well as the artist's studio and life.


This should keep you busy for a while!

If you want to buy any of these movies, all you have to do is click on the images of the video's above and it will take you directly to Amazon.com where you can get the best price. 

I love a good movie, and curling up with hot cocoa, a blanket, and the kids for movie night is something that Big Bear and I enjoy very much.  

Let me know if you see any of these movies!  Also, if you have any other movies about art or artists that you would like to share, please let me know in the comments below!



Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Joplin Prayer


This past Sunday, we learned that a group of folks from our church would be headed to Joplin to help in the recovery there from the tornado of May 22nd that leveled the town and took the life of 142 souls.  I signed up for that mission but have not heard yet if I will be going or not. 


In the meantime, I am taking a page from a blogging friend and inviting you to please contribute to the recovery effort in Joplin.  Judy, at Patchwork Times, is accepting donations by check for the American Red Cross and also quilts that she will distribute to the families in need in Joplin in July.


She is also taking the names of those individuals who make a donation and putting them in the mix for an opportunity to win one of her beautiful quilts!  Sorta like a raffle, but instead of buying a raffle ticket, you are donating to those in need in Joplin!  I like that even better!


As for the donations, make your checks payable to the "American Red Cross" and in the memo section at the bottom of your check, please write "Joplin recovery."  That way there is no question, and your donation will go directly to the fund that is assisting the families in Joplin who have lost so much.


A bit about Judy - she has her own blog called "Patchwork Times" and lives 60 miles north of Joplin.  She is married to Vince, and they have one son, Chad, who is in college and no longer living at home, though he does come home on weekends to work and get laundry done and have home cooked meals.  She says that they are not totally empty nesters yet.  They have a mini-dachshund, Speck, and nine hens, who are almost pets! Judy and Vince live in Missouri, on one acre smack dab in the city limits of a tiny little town 75 miles away from a real restaurant.


Judy has also written two books - both published by AQS.  Nine Patch Extravaganza, was released in July, 2007 and Weekend Quilts came out in February, 2010.  You can order an autographed copy of either (or both) from Judy here.  Judy has a new book in the works too.  If you like her borders,  (and I like her borders) you’ll like the third book (no doubt about borders) which will be out probably late 2011 or early 2012. 


As you may know, my daughter, Kim, and her family live 60 miles south of Joplin.  Let's just say that the night those storms busted through that part of town, I was worried sick for my daughter and her hubby and my granddaughter, Reagan.  Just thinking about it makes me a little nuts, which is why this recovery effort is so important to me - because I know that I am blessed that the tornado missed my daughter's home, and yet, I know that others were not so fortunate and next time (Lord, please don't let there be a next time!) well ... I'm not going to talk about it.  Just put it this way, I have never been fond of tornado alley, especially during tornado season, and as a mother, I worry about those things.

So, in the spirit of giving, let's all do our part to make a difference to the families in Joplin who lost so much. 

Please make checks payable to the "American Red Cross" and in the memo section of your check write "Joplin Recovery."  Also, if you are sending a quilt for the families of Joplin, you can also send them to Judy and she will be taking them to Joplin in July.  She just needs to receive them before July 4th.  Your name will be in the running for one of Judy's beautiful quilts too!

Judy Laquidara
713 Timberbrook Drive
Nevada, MO 64772

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email Judy at [email protected]  And, be sure and visit her on her blog Patchwork Times!

Thank you to everyone who wants to help.  It is in the giving that makes this life worth living.



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