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Loving Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Lagoon view, Cleveland Museum of Art, Clevelan...
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I’ve always loved art and art history. Beyond the art itself, I love to learn about the time periods and the life and times of the artists.  Museums are perfect for this and our day trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art in the University Circle area of Cleveland was superb.  We all left with our favorites from our first trip which I’ll entertain in this blog.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is huge and half-way through an enormous expansion, which will leave it even bigger in five years.  It was almost overwhelming to try to see just the second floor in 3 hours or less, especially because we wanted to appreciate each piece and read about all of them. I was trying to read the information cards on each piece to the kids and Emma had a barrage of questions that I was answering. I felt as if I was trying to teach 15 years of school in half an hour, because I was not just teaching art, I was teaching history, mythology, religion, culture, customs, economics, design, wardrobe…..

We chose a few of our favorites from this trip and we hope you enjoy them too:

Nassem loves Early American History and Colonial History. He enjoys the history of New England, the colonies, the formation of America. His favorite piece of art was an oil painting by Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) called “Harbor in Boston with the City in the Distance (1846-47, oil on canvas).”  The electronic photo of the painting, below, was taken from the blog of Henry Adams, professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He writes that Lane’s paintings are now costly and very rare, but he was able to secure one from the descendant of its original owner who purchased from Lane.

You can also few the piece on the Cleveland Museum of Art website at : http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&csearch=Artist%20/%20Maker:Fitz%20Henry%20Lane

He also liked the painting called “George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (1779) by Charles Wilson Peale. He said that in all his research on the Internet he sees this one pop up frequently. He loves everything Presidential. Addie thought it was neat because Emma has been drawing all sorts of her own versions of George Washington since learning about Presidents on President’s Day.   Peale painted George Washington many times during his career. The Cleveland Museum of Art houses this in their colonial section.

When asking Emma what her favorite part of the museum was she just yelled a resounding “everything!!” She was partial to the Van Gogh paintings though. She knows he is one of my favorite painters and was very excited to learn about him this year in first grade art class where they were tasked with drawing their own “Starry Starry Night” by Van Gogh.  She liked the color that Monet and Manet and other Impressionists used in their oil paintings and appreciated the colors and dreamy look of the Van Goghs. She came home and drew her own rendition of some of the Van Gogh paintings they had such as, “Adeline Ravoux (1890, oil on fabric).”  Van Gogh painted this portrait of the 16-year-old daughter of an innkeeper where he was staying  just two months prior to when he died, and was quoted as saying that it wasn’t really a photographic resemblance but “wanted it to convey impassioned aspects of contemporary life through the use of the modern taste for color.”  She is a little green and blue, which Emma picked up on since her rendition of the lady looked a little like a blue person from the movie “Avatar.”

You can view Van Gogh’s painting on the The Cleveland Museum of Art’s website here:  http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?pid=%7B91ADCD8F-992A-45A5-8599-70835467DF5E%7D&coid=3526974&clabel=highlights and below is Emma’s version.

For me, Claude Monet is another of my favorites. I love the Impressionists. They have a lot of nice Monet, as well as other Impressionists at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  My favorite of the day though was “The Red Kerchief (1873, oil on fabric)” by Monet (French, 1840-1926). I love anything that is like the old fairy tales and it reminded me and Addie of Little Red Riding Hood.  In actuality, it is a painting that Monet did of his wife, peering at us through a locked door as she bustles by looking cold or scared. It was a few years before she died and many people interpret the painting as having been representative of the problems in their relationship (he was in love with another woman). However, it formerly was of a couple looking into the door, until he repainted it as his wife.  Other people find it representative of the Impressionist movement and their issues with being accepted by the art world at the time, as they were refused gallery shows and their work rejected frequently.  Either way, it was a painting that he kept with him till his death in 1926. I love the use of the brush, the texture of the stroke, the use of color so that the red just pops out at the viewer.

View it on the Museum’s website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2

Addie said her best time of the day was seeing the big horse and knight dressed in armor. She takes after her mommy and daddy!  Their armor room, called the Armor Court, is amazing. It is full of all kinds of Italian, Spanish, British and more armor pieces and the top of the room adorned in beautiful tapestries.  Tim said this room was his favorite as well.  Though the museum has a great medieval collection located on the first floor, this Armor Court is up on the second floor with the European art

View an up close and side photo of the knight and horse in armor on the Museum website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2&searchoption=1

We also had the opportunity to view their new exhibition “The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art” which just opened today and will be on display until August.  It consisted of beautifully light and airy ink drawings on screens and cloth, as well as gorgeous bridal gown that Addie liked (but felt it might be too big for her) because of its vibrant colors (still vibrant though many hundreds of year old).  Emma was enthralled by how whole words were drawn using one calligraphy symbol.  Their poetry was not just words, but art flowing onto paper.  The Museum writes, “The show features every art form, including painting, calligraphy, and craft, that transformed Chinese lyrical aesthetics in the Korean Joseon period and in the Japanese Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo periods.”  You can view more info here:  http://www.clevelandart.org/visit/Exhibitions.aspx

All my children are little budding artists and I hope trips like these inspire them even more. Here’s some bad camera phone photos of the kids with several Van Goghs:

I can’t wait to let you know what our favorites are from our next trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art of another art museum! Who is your favorite artist or the best art museum you’ve been to?


Perfect Autumn Notecards

It has been a long week/weekend and I just didn’t want to start another week without writing something. Until I write again, let me tease you with fact I found yet another awesome apple cake recipe. Actually my mom found it, and with some of my own tweaking of the recipe, it turned out fabulous. It was the best cake I have ever had! I made it with homemade cooked brown sugar frosting just like my grandmother used to make for her kids. I promise, the next post will be those recipes!

We went to the pumpkin patch and have taken in all the different hues of the orange spectrum along with even some “albino” ones. The orange pumpkins with the purple field flower (gotta find that name!), the cornstalks, the bees and beetles nibbling on the purplish gourd flowers all were magnificent to explore. The wagon ride to and from the patch was fun for the kids of course.  We went to Honey Haven Farms (www.honeyhavenfarm.com)  in Ashland, Ohio and the Boyer family is tremendously wonderful to the community and their patrons!

I’ve taken a lot more photos too of the changing leaves and all the nook and crannies you find during fall walks that take your breath away. I’ll enlighten readers more on some of those interesting tidbits soon as well. I just love the vibrant reds, yellows, oranges and browns.

Isn’t this you favorite time of year?

And in closing for now, I have several more autumn notecards sets for sale that I know you’ll love. Take a peek at www.breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com and toss some in your virtual checkout basket to write notes to your friends today!

Apple Orchards and Apple Cake

Visiting the Apple Orchard

Another favorite part of the Autumn Season for my family is anything that has to do with APPLES!  Yesterday, Tim and I took the kids to Mitchell’s Apple Orchard (a family owned orchard in our small town) and we picked our own apples. They gave each of the kids a small little apple bag so they could each fill their own. We trodded back down the lane to the fruit orchard, watching our three-year old’s glee at picking apples from the tree. Red delicious apples were falling all around us, literally. They were underfoot, falling down, and in the trees. With the suns rays shining down onto the apples though the leaves it was almost like we had stepped into a fairytale from a distant past time.  We also chose some granny smith, which are my son’s favorite (not sure if because of the taste or because he loves that color green).  We were the only ones in the orchard and we felt like we could skip around between the rows and discover all that nature provides. I loved seeing my children so excited over something so quaint as a fruit orchard. They also had to run over to the grape vines (mostly done for the season) and see if they could pick a grape. It was again like shopping at the “nature store” and all of it was provided to us for free from our glorious Earth! How can nature produce such colorful, bold, sweet candy? We had so much fun during this hour, discovering nature, loving the outdoors, taking photos, laughing. And we did it all for $6 (the price of the 1/2 bushel bag that we also filled to bring home). The kids started eating their apples as soon as we got home. I was pleasantly elated that they were excited to eat apples instead of asking for candy.  Life doesn’t get much better than making these kinds of memories. I am sure we will go back at least one more time soon.  For now, I’ve got lots of apples to bake with. Tonight I made an apple cake that we will eat after dinner with vanilla ice cream.

About Apples

Besides being lovely to photograph due to their vibrant colors, apples are also a great snack. They are full of pectin and provide dietary fiber, potassium, beta-carotene and Vitamin C! 

Apple Recipes

Apples  are great raw and cut-up with peanut butter. They can always be used in fruit salad. And there are a million baking recipes where sweet apples become soft cinnamon flavored delights.  Try the link below for many apple recipes and start baking!


Apple Cake:

3/4 cup (75 grams) chopped walnuts or pecans

1 pound (454 grams) apples

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cup (195 grams) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup (50 grams) raisins

Glaze: (optional)

1/3 cup (85 grams) apricot preserves or jam

Apple Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray, an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan and then line with parchment paper or wax paper.Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack and then coarsely chop.Peel, core, and coarsely chop the apples. Toss with 1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated. Fold in the chopped nuts, raisins, and chopped apples. If the batter is thick, stir in the milk.Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.While the cake is still warm, prepare the glaze. Place the apricot jam or preserves in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until liquid. Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Alternatively, place the apricot jam or preserves in a small bowl and heat in the microwave. Using a pastry brush, spread the warmed preserves over the apple cake.Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Reheat before serving.Makes 6-8 servings.Sources:Alford, Jeffrey & Duguid, Naomi. Home Baking. Artisan. New York: 2003.Rosen, Michael J. Baking from the Heart. Broadway Books. New York: 2004.Slater, Nigel. The Kitchen Diaries. Fourth Estate. London: 2005.
Apples and Children

Apples orchards are a great family fun activity and superb for catching family photos for autumn.  There are many other things after the orchard that you can teach your family. Apples were first brought to the New World by the pilgrims. Tell them the story of Johnny Appleseed and how he went from state to state and planted the apple trees. Where I live in Ohio, we love to talk about this because he actually came through our area planting seedlings.  The Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center is located in Mifflin area, Ohio and information can be provided at http://www.jahci.org . Children love apples and they often are used to represent learning. Did you give your teacher an apple?  Try this link for apple coloring pages for your children.

Go to page:http://www.leehansen.com/coloring/Seasons/pages/apples.htm

Apple Photos

My favorite colors are red, yellow and orange and so I love to photography the natural beauty of red and yellow apples while they are still on the tree, in a child’s hand, or in disarray on the ground. My apple photos, which will be up soon in my online store, are available in any size, on canvas, on gallery canvas, framed, on matboard, and in assorted note card packages of 10! Lovely for autumn decorating and for writing those thank you or thinking of you notes. Watch for them at my artfire store: http://breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com

Happy Apple Hunting!!




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Autumn Days in All their Splendor

Autumn Acorns and Fall Foilage

Today in Ohio it was a gorgeous Autumn day, with sunshine and warmth. We spent some time outside today crunching acorns underfoot and their crispness reminded me of acorn collecting days as a child. My own children and I scavenged through replacing tops, finding sprouts and imaging new Oak trees trying to grow into the sun. The leaves on the trees are melding into yellow hues, with patches of vibrant red and orange. A drive through the countryside had us dreaming of lovely oil paintings and beautiful photographs. One of the best things about Fall are the colors, and of course the acorns. I’ll be heading to bed dreaming of tiny squirrels filling their homes for the winter.