It is still quite cold here in New York State, so I imagine the Easter Bunny will need a scarf as he makes his rounds this year. Here is a little freebie to commemorate the occasion. (For personal use only, please.)
Soft, natural, and beautiful: here are a few favorite spring picks for the nursery and the new mother.
The great outdoors is calling. Backyards, parks, and woodland paths offer up a bounty of leaves, seeds, flowers, rocks, and sticks: a cornucopia of natural art supplies, not to mention the basis for a great pine cone collection. Here is a round-up of ten great activities, most of which are free (or almost free) and all of which get the family out of the house, inspecting the wonders of nature and enjoying all that fresh air.
Whistler (American, 1834-1903) painted his “Nocturne in Black and Gold: the Falling Rocket” in 1875, after the advent of photography changed the landscape of art. For Whistler, realism was no longer the standard by which art was to be judged; photography captured the realistic, and “it [was] for the artist to do something beyond this.” The move towards a certain moody impressionism is clear in this work: its blurry forms, its vaguely industrial landscape, and the stark chiaroscuro explosions of the fireworks give the painting an almost tangible mood. He (and many others in the “Art for Art’s Sake” movement) were influenced by Japanese art and design. The Asian influence can be seen in the poise of the ghost-like figures at the bottom of the painting, and it is revealed in the calligraphic form of his signature. But most of all, Whistler captures a kind of Japanese aesthetic in his famous splattered fireworks: he uses a seemingly casual, or even careless, technique, but with a precision that gives the work a delicate and exact clarity. The result is startling and ephemeral, like the fireworks he depicts.
Nocturne in Black and Gold: the Falling Rocket (1875) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler is part of the permanent collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Summer is on its way: the days are lengthening and soon the nights will be warm enough to let the kids stay up late outdoors. Stargazing is the perfect summer country activity: go out together after dark; find the most open, treeless area you can; get lost in all that immensity. Do it more than once. Teach older kids (and yourself) how to identify a few major constellations; later, read the Greek myths upon which they are based. Show preschool kids that the stars make “connect-the-dots” pictures, and let them make their own constellations on paper. Toddlers get bonus points for spotting fireflies along the way. Here are a handful of ways (some of them free) to give your budding astronomers a greater love and knowledge of the starry sky:
Isn’t spring a wonderful time to start something new?