Category Archives: Art

Thank You, Shirley

I have been rather ill for about a month or so. I changed into “The Lone Wolf” which I tend to do when I’m sick – that is I go off by myself to “lick my wounds”, try to gather my energy, and heal while becoming a hermit in the process.

My dear friend Shirley was very concerned about me. She called me, sent me emails, and sent me healing energy to help me feel better. She understands my lone wolf proclivities and checks up on me once in awhile to make sure I’m still drawing breath.

This last bout of illness lasted a long time. I had been very depressed and had horrible headaches and digestive problems and just felt like crap. I am a huge reader, and it took effort for me to even pick up a book at times – that’s how you know I really feel bad.

So yesterday I woke up and there was some kind of framed object covered with a blanket sitting in our TV room. I had no idea what it could be…I uncovered it…and it was a piece of artwork my friend Shirley had created many years ago! It is an “Articulator”- Shirley innovated new materials and techniques inspired by an ancient art form to create these works of art. She calls them “Articulators” because the canvas is “articulated” – it has regular fan-like folds in it which allow her to paint one scene on one side of the fold, and another on the other side. As a result, when you look at the picture from the left you see one scene; as you move to the right of the picture it dissolves into a different scene. These works of art are a labor of love and can take many weeks to complete.

She had given it to us to cheer me up after all these weeks of illness! It certainly did that!!

So I was blessed with the gift of this Articulator, entitled “The Spirit of Life Dancing in the Winds of Change”. It has pride of place on my wall to all who enter the house. I love this painting because I have always been a lover of trees (yes, I am the original “tree hugger”). Trees are such an ancient form of life and I believe they are part of an overall Earth consciousness…as of course are we. The tree that becomes the Spirit of Life Dancing reflects, to me, that we all come from the same Source, all is made of energy dancing through its many configurations. As the leaves of the trees dance and bend to the winds of life, so we too adapt and change our dance.

The tree view

Walk to the right of the art and you see…

The Spirit of Life view

Note: The lighting conditions caused by flash photography do not highlight the full beauty of the work.

Isn’t it beautiful? Giving me this artwork was truly an act of spirituality by Shirley. She knew how much I liked this piece, it was hanging in her home and several months ago I had asked her rather sheepishly if she would leave it to me in her will. And now…here it is on my wall. To create such a beautiful thing and to able to detach from it and give it away for someone else to enjoy is a rare act in today’s world. I am so lucky to have a friend like Shirley.

I love you, Shirley. Thanks for the art and also for sticking by me and checking up on me when I’m ill. You and I are soulmates.

Here you can see how the two images are interconnected.



Filed under Art, Friendship, Life, Spirituality

The Ultimate Recycle

I was watching one of my favorite programs on the Sundance Channel the other day called “Big Ideas for a Small Planet”. It deals with new and old ideas for conserving and producing energy and resources. This most recent program dealt with a fantastic recycling idea in the architectural field.

Francie Rehwald, a 60-year-old retiree and Mercedes Benz dealership heiress, decided she wanted to build a home in Victorville, California. She requested that the home be curvy (with feminine lines), and it had to be environmentally friendly. She enlisted the help of architect David Hertz of Santa Monica. He came up with the idea of using a scrapped Boeing 747-200 jet; according to Hertz a scrapped jet could be purchased for merely the value of the aluminum used in the plane’s construction – which is approximately $30,000. In his plan, the wings would be used as a roof and the ailerons would control the shade on the deck. The nose would be reborn as a meditation temple. Some of the remaining scrap would be turned into shelters for barn animals. The cost of the project would be approximately $2 million (hey – she’s an heiress – no problem).

Since the completed project would look from the air like scattered pieces of a plane (which in essence is what it is!), the FAA has asked that “special numbers” be painted on the wings to let pilots flying overhead know that the site is not a crash site.

Below is the architect’s rendering of the finished project.

photo: BBC News


Filed under Architecture, Art, Ecology, Life

My Favorite Articulator

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned an “Articulator” painting called “The Attainable Dream” painted by my friend Shirley. Today I was at Shirley’s home and took photos of that painting so I could share it on my blog. So without further ado, here it is!

Here’s the painting viewed from the left – caveman staring at the moon.

Standing right in front of painting – notice the transition starting…

Looking from the right side of the painting – there’s the astronaut!

Shirley has painted about 200 different Articulators. Bob Hope, Lee Iacocca, and the Ahmanson theater family are just a few who have purchased her paintings in past years.


Filed under Art

A Day with an Artist

My friend Shirley is an artist (you may remember her from one of my earlier posts called “My Amazing Friend”) . Shirley innovated new materials and techniques inspired by an ancient art form to create paintings she calls “Articulators”. She calls them Articulators because the canvas is “articulated” – it has regular fan-like folds in it which allow her to paint one scene on one side of the fold, and another on the other side. As a result, when you look at the picture from the left you see one scene; as you move to the right of the picture it dissolves into a different scene.

One of my very favorite of Shirley’s Articulators is called “The Attainable Dream”, it depicts a caveman pondering the moon from his cave opening (when viewed from the left) and when you move to the right, the caveman dissolves into an astronaut standing on the moon pondering the Earth. Fantastic!

Below are some photos of one of the Articulator which is on display at the Wells Fargo Bank in Laguna Beach. The bank is hosting an art exhibit at the moment, so Shirley and I went down there to visit her painting. It has been owned for many years by a friend of hers who now needs to sell it to get his estate in order. I decided to commemorate the visit digitally, but the painting is so much more glorious in person. I had some difficulty with the harsh lighting and plexiglas reflections on the painting, but I did my best. Shirley, the artist, poses with her work.

painting viewed from the right

painting viewed from the left

Here are some words from Shirley about her art:

Pioneering a whole new development of this ancient art form included several inventions, which my dear husband and I worked on together. This was one of the most exciting and rewarding challenges of my life, and I love sharing it whenever possible.




Filed under Art, Friendship, Life

Words that Inspire the Spirit

Those of you who read my blog know that I am a spiritual person in that I believe in God, kindness to others, collective consciousness, and the afterlife. I disapprove of organized religion, dogma, judgmental people, fundamentalism, and black-and-white thinking.

To that end, I have been doing some spiritual reading this week and found some poetry and quotations that inspired me. I would like to share them with you here.

The first poem by the Sufi poet Rumi says to me that problems and difficulties in life are only as bad as you choose to let them be; if you can take troubles and learn the lessons they bring, you will lead a happy life. “Bad” situations may be precursors to “good” things.

The second and third quotes I can deeply relate to. Sometimes I will be overcome with joy and love for others; it’s like a very bright light is shining on me and I truly feel a benevolent presence surrounding me. My relationships with any person I meet while under this influence become totally effortless. I find that there is no such thing as a difficult person because I approach everyone with love and they seem to feel this somehow, as if I am broadcasting love and appreciation of each person I meet. People can even cut me off while I’m driving and it just rolls right off my back!

The last quote is self-explanatory.


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.


A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.


Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of its furniture,

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

For some new delight.


The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.


Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent

As a guide from beyond.


(from The Essential Rumi; translated by Coleman Barks)


At certain moments, always unforeseen, I become happy…I look at the strangers near as if I had known them all my life…everything fills me with affection…It may be an hour before the mood passes, but latterly I seem to understand that I enter upon it the moment I cease to hate. – William Butler Yeats


Vacillation (IV)

My fiftieth year had come and gone,

I sat, a solitary man,

In a crowded London shop,

An open book and empty cup.

While on the street I gazed

My body of a sudden blazed;

And twenty minutes more or less

It seemed, so great my happiness,

That I was blessed and could bless.

– William Butler Yeats


There is no object so foul that intense light will not make it beautiful.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson




Filed under Art, Seeking, Spirituality

I Could Never Be an Art Forger…

Last year I made a foray into the world of acrylic painting. I’ve got the creative bug and since I’ve got lots of spare time due to illness, I like to learn about and try different things. I love to take classes at the local community college or adult ed.

This particular class’ s goal was for us to learn about the painting process by copying a great master’s work. I love the Impressionists, I love Monet, and my favorite color is blue, so I picked this painting entitled “The Beach at Sainte-Adresse 1867“. I enjoy the dreamy look of his paintings.

Here’s my version:

Compare to Monet painting:

I’ll admit for a first try I didn’t do too badly, but no one could ever accuse me of forgery. And Monet is not doing “the rotisserie” in his grave. But I found I didn’t enjoy painting too much for this reason: I have to use acrylics; due to a health problem I’m not allowed to use oil paints and especially not solvents. So for each special color I needed, I had to mix up special color batches of paint. This would be no big deal, except that acrylics dry quite fast and if you don’t paint quickly, the paint in the palette dries up and you have to mix another batch – and just like matching paint on a car, you have to hope you can get close to the same color you had before (or else paint the whole area again, a vicious circle).

Now that I bought all the accoutrements of painting, maybe I’ll just try to paint my own original composition. I need drawing lessons though. My grasp of perspective is elementary at best.


Filed under Art

Funeral Blues

I first became acquainted with this poem while watching the film “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.

If you saw the movie (and few did not, it seems), you may recall the scene where this poem was read (during the funeral of Gareth, played by Simon Callow, the cheerful, adventurous lover of life who is felled by a sudden heart attack at one of the weddings). The poem is read by his domestic partner Matthew (played by John Hannah) in a haunting Scottish lilt which makes the poem even more sad and beautiful:

Funeral Blues (Part 1)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

— W. H. Auden


Filed under Art, Poetry